A Big-Headed Dick

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Author: Stephen Abell
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 827 words

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[(review date 18/25 December 2004) In the following review, Abell traces the development of Auster's writing style as reflected in Collected Novels: Volume I, and assesses a graphic novel version of City of Glass, adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli.]

When idly contemplating the apparently timeless photograph of Paul Auster that adorns this book's [Collected Novels: Volume I] jacket--the author as postmodernist poster boy, complete with jet-black hair, insouciant half-smile and uniform roll-neck--the reader may reflect how dated a philosophy postmodernism has now become. While Auster's outward appearance, like Dorian Gray's, seems to have remained youthfully beatific, this collection of his early work gives us the opportunity to see that it is in his first three novels that the ravages of age have come most seriously to bear.

The New York Trilogy (written between 1981 and 1984), which comprises City of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room, is essentially three variations around the ominous concept of the postmodern detective story. In each, the central character is a writer-turned-detective--a big-headed dick, as it were--in search of both a human and an epistemological quarry: Auster's self-conscious writing about the process of an investigation is made to serve as an investigation into the process of writing...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1100074318