Staring at the Sun

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Author: Toby Mundy
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 662 words

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[(review date 14 October 2002) In the following review, Mundy contends that Auster successfully combines "metaphysical playfulness with human seriousness" in The Book of Illusions and declares it the author's best work.]

God is dead, pronounced the French poet Gérard de Nerval in 1854, scooping Nietzsche by nearly 30 years, "Heaven is empty-- / Weep, children, weep. You no longer have a father". Nerval's God is certainly absent from the outstanding new novel by Paul Auster, which subtly depicts an arbitrary, secular universe. But in The Book of Illusions, it is not children who mourn, but fathers, who grieve for their dead offspring.

When David Zimmer's wife and two young sons are killed in a freak plane crash, he is separated not only from his family, but also temporarily from his senses. Zimmer is an academic and he and his wife had always struggled for money. Now, standing amid the rubble of his life, he finds himself embodying an excruciating paradox: through insurance pay-outs...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1100074306