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The New York Trilogy is a series of novels by Paul Auster. Originally published sequentially as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986), it has since been collected into a single volume.

Plot introduction

Ostensibly presented as detective fiction, the stories of The New York Trilogy have been described as "meta-detective-fiction", "anti-detective fiction", "mysteries about mysteries", a "strangely humorous working of the detective novel", "very soft-boiled", a "metamystery" and a "mixture between the detective story and the nouveau roman". This may classify Auster as a postmodern writer whose works are influenced by the "classical literary movement" of American postmodernism through the 1960s and 70s . There is, however, "a certain coherence in the narrative discourse, a neo-realistic approach and a show of responsibility for social and moral aspects going beyond mere metafictional and subversive elements", which distinguish him from a "traditional" postmodern writer. The New York Trilogy is a particular form of postmodern detective fiction which still uses well-known elements of the detective novel (the classical and hardboiled varieties, for example) but also creates a new form that links "the traditional features of the genre with the experimental, metafictional and ironic features of postmodernism."

A 2006 reissue by Penguin Books is fronted by new pulp magazine-style covers by comic book illustrator Art Spiegelman.

City of Glass

The first story, City of Glass, features a detective-fiction writer become private investigator who descends into madness as he becomes embroiled in a case. It explores layers of identity and reality, from Paul Auster the writer of the novel to the unnamed "author" who reports the events as reality to "Paul Auster the writer", a character in the story, to "Paul Auster the detective", who may or may not exist in the novel, to Peter Stillman the younger to Peter Stillman the elder and, finally, to Daniel Quinn, the protagonist.

Ghosts

The second story, Ghosts, is about a private eye called Blue, trained by Brown, who is investigating a man named Black on Orange Street for a client named White. Blue writes written reports to White who in turn pays him for his work. Blue becomes frustrated and loses himself as he becomes immersed in the life of Black.

The Locked Room

The Locked Room is the story of a writer who lacks the creativity to produce fiction. Fanshawe, his childhood friend has produced creative work, and when he disappears the writer publishes his work and replaces him in his family. The title is a reference to a "locked room mystery", a popular form of early detective fiction.

Adaptations

City of Glass was adapted in 1994 into a critically-acclaimed experimental graphic novel by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli. It was published as City of Glass: The Graphic Novel in 2004.

In 2009, Audible.com produced an audio version of The New York Trilogy, narrated by Joe Barrett, as part of its Modern Vanguard line of audiobooks.

Allusions and references in other works

City of Glass is referenced in the 2001 video game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which contains a character named Peter Stillman. The reference has been further confirmed by the game's early design documentation, which revealed other characters named after Quinn and his aliases that were not included in the final version of the game. The references are thematically appropriate, as the game also exploits metafictional issues in questioning the relationship between the player of a video game and the protagonist of the game itself.

Bibliography



Notes

  1. Reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel Fanshawe' - Heiko Jakubzik: Paul Auster und die Klassiker der American Renaissance. Dissertation, Universität Heidelberg 1999, p. 7 ( online text)
  2. In Auster's novel, Stillman is either the would-be feral child or his delusional father: they share the same name.


See also



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