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This book is essentially about some men building a wall Admittedly it is portrayed as the most sinister episode of landscape gardening that there ever was, but nonetheless it is still, inherently about two men building a wall How do you make landscape gardening sinister Here is the recipe Take one sticky situation.Add two desperate chancersMix in two mendacious and sinister old men soft on the outside but hard as nails on the inside for the desired texture Sprinkle on some moneyShake things up thoroughly Pound with one large but outwardly amiable henchman until tender and bloodyLeave overnight to absorb the consequences and stew in own juicesPop into a metal vessel then turn up the heat.I m not going to say any aside from the fact that this absurdist novel by Paul Auster is, of all the novels he has written, my very own favourite. 4.5 The Music of Chance ticks with impending doom Or maybe not I kept hoping for relief Auster makes the routine act of building a stone wall for months freighted with meaning and suspense I have so many questions I am just floored by this book Brilliant and unnerving. The Music of Chance, Paul AusterThe Music of Chance 1990 is an absurdist novel by Paul Auster It was a 1991 finalist for the PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction and was later made into a film in 1993 Mandy Patinkin played Nashe and James Spader played Pozzi 2015 1391. Jim Nashe is a frivolous Boston fireman who needs music as a life crutch His wife abandons him just before his father dies, leaving him money that he squanders aimlessly while driving around America Near desperation, he meets a bitter young itinerant gambler, Jack Jackpot Pozzi, who lures him into a losing poker game with two shady recluses, Flower and Stone, on their Pennsylvania estate Nashe and Pozzi must retire their debt by building a stone wall on the premises what this Herculean labor does to them is the novel s leitmotif An interesting story, but some may object that the journalistic prose merely tells the story instead of showing it I don t know if I necessarily enjoyed this book or any Paul Auster book at the moment, for that matter The enjoyment comes from the questions I ask myself after I ve put the book down It is not an enjoyable reading experience, but rather a contemplative one In that regard, it is a highly successful piece of art The story appears to be relatively simple One man goes driving He meets another man on the road The two of them meet some eccentric millionaires The four men play poker Then two men build a wall It is almost non sensical now that I look back on it But the story s not really the thing it never is in an Auster book So don t go looking for closure, and don t expect easy answers It s all just an excuse for some finely written meditations on the nature of fate and the restrictions of freedom Auster s writing style is enigmatic There is a faux coldness to it, appearing at first glance distant and reserved Closer inspection, however, reveals much humanity and passion in his prose I ve always had suspicions that his surname is really an ingeniously calculated pseudonym, for any austerity in the writing is both sincere and ironic That s a neat trick to pull off, and, to my mind, his greatest strength as a writer In this example from his oeuvre, he gets the balance just right. A macabre fable about fate and chance and randomness and destiny.Plenty of philosophical reference and dilemmas sprinkled throughout the tale.Throw in some Greek mythology also.Lots of the classical Auster themes and characterisations are here.Enjoyed the reference to Rousseaus target practice in a forest,I can relate to that.Not for everybody but I really enjoyed it.Discovered afterwards that it was made into a movie.Apart from his most recent novel I think I have now completed the entire Auster canon.One of the best living American writers in my view. What is a human fate Is it a preset pattern decided by some divine providence from above Or is it just a hellish roulette It was one of those random, accidental encounters that seem to materialize out of thin air a twig that breaks off in the wind and suddenly lands at your feet Had it occurred at any other moment, it is doubtful that Nashe would have opened his mouth But because he had already given up, because he figured there was nothing to lose any, he saw the stranger as a reprieve, as a last chance to do something for himself before it was too late A chance There is always a chance And the wheel of fortune keep turning His money was gone, his car was gone, his life was in a shambles If nothing else, perhaps those fifty days would give him a chance to take stock, to sit still for the first time in over a year and ponder his next move It was almost a relief to have the decision taken out of his hands, to know that he had finally stopped running The gamblers had put on their lucky card too much and lost Desolation, hopelessness and the infernal toil those were their award and they literally found themselves in one of the circles of hell with only a chance of redemption We gamble with chance and chance plays with our fates. |Free E-pub ♫ The Music of Chance ♱ In a Pennsylvania meadow, a young fireman and an angry gambler are forced to build a wall of fifteenth century stone For Jim Nashe, it all started when he came into a small inheritance and left Boston in pusuit of a life of freedom Careening back and forth across the United States, waiting for the money to run out, Nashe met Jack Pozzi, a young man with a temper and a plan With Nashe s last funds, they entered a poker game against two rich eccentrics, risking everything on the single turn of a card In Paul Auster s world of fiendish bargains and punitive whims, where chance is a shifting and powerful force, there is redemption, nonetheless, in Nashe s resolute quest for justice and his capacity for love. Another strange but absorbing read from one of America s finest, its a little on the short side but is instantly recognisable as Auster Featuring oddball eccentric characters and elements of The Brothers Grimm and Samuel Beckett, its quite a straight forward story basically about a couple of guys losing a game of poker then building a wall as a way to clear the debt, its told in a way that makes it feel like a surreal fable There is also a shocking ending I didn t see coming For fans it s a worthy read, although not his best. Another enmeshing, enticing, and enigmatic novel from Paul Auster, and one that features yet again a gent infected with the peregrine spirit, unconcerned about such typically weighty matters as steady employment, pursuing a family life, establishing communal roots, etc This time the narrator, one Jim Nashe a man who, upon receiving an unexpected inheritance, opts to abandon his young family in order to aimlessly meander about the young country in the purpose of blowing the entirety of his stack hooks up with an inveterate gambler, Jack Pozzi, and is persuaded to back him with the remains of his windfall in a poker play against a pair of old duffers whose didactic skills are held to be no match for this Hustler et ami Alas, fate has played cruelly with these chumps who have dared to test her moods, and Jack and Jim shortly find themselves paying off their sizable gambling loss by means of labouring to build a stone wall across the breadth of the estate of the triumphant, and modestly triumphal, geezers This is not merely a debt of money, but one of human honour, and there are strict observances and reparations that are expected ere it will be satisfactorily discharged The loser duo aren t long in discovering the backbreaking requirements of the wall s construction, one that, paired with their room and board expenses, have stretched the debt s termination point unto a despairingly distant horizon Pozzi chafes under the bonds of indenturement, while Nashe finds himself seeing deep channels carved in this lesson in fiduciary and existential mindfulness When the tensions mount to the breaking point, not the least observant of readers will be surprised to discover that bad things are going to happen.An absorbing and thoughtful read, if a touch elliptic whenever Auster slips too sartorially into the seamed passions of his postmodern graces This microcosmic morality play examines the macrocosm that is the capitalist system one whose constructs have so often been compared to that of a thinly veiled slavery, and whose memes of debt, with all of the numerical explosiveness of compounded interest and back burnered principal, chew up temporally alloted life in massive, grinding bites as well as the costs and obligations that are paid out and amassed in the pursuit of a freedom that can so often prove anything but not least in the moral morass one can founder within when the question concerns the shirking of one s duties, the breaking of one s word, the strict observance of the law with no recourse to human feeling, pity, or generosity whether one does indeed spoil the child when the rod has been spared and how victories won and freedoms gained can pale in the chanced stopwatch measuring of an unmoved world It was many years ago that I read this, and after I had seen the movie with James Spader and Mandy Patinkin, and I m not certain that I could honestly state which one I preferred It was also my second Auster, In the Country of Last Things having been the gateway for me into his own sparse and abstracted and, post The Book of Illusions , overplayed and underperforming literary theatre. In the early zeros, when I worked at the village IGA, Georges, one of the older baggers, came back from lunch with a stricken look on his face He held up a receipt he found crumpled up by the bank machine across the street Hey Check he said, holding it too close to my face Balance 200,000 tabarnak My life is fucking garbage and always will be fucking garbage An unhappy bagger can make for a long afternoon, so I examined the paper, clapped a chapped hand on his shoulder and said, Only an idiot would leave 200,000 in a savings account This seemed to cheer him up a bit, and it gave us a good discussion topic for the rest of the day When Nashe, in Paul Auster s The Music of Chance plops his 200,000 inheritance into a bank account, I know I m in for a nervous read about a man will run out of money somewhere awful Will it be fast Will it be painful Even when he s just driving the roads to nowhere in the beginning of the book, there s a lot of suspense over that money in the bank, and later, the glove box sort of a fiscal musical chairs where I know from the start, Nashe is going to be out in a big way This is my first Paul Auster book, and I thought it was damn clever the way he wove suspense out of something sitting somewhere and running out Once the money is gone, he continues to build a good story from other things running out on Nashe strength, energy, clarity of mind, liberty, companionship, until the end where he finds out what he is made of And the verdict isn t bad He s lost everything, but Nashe is made of adequate stuff He also appreciates how All of a sudden, the stones were turning into a wall, and in spite of the pain it had cost him, he could not help admiring it Whenever he stopped and looked at it now, he felt awed by what he had done I ve never understood gambling, but the stones turning into a wall is a familiar state of mind, and I like how Auster let it sneak up on me, his lovely voice pulling me along Does he, perhaps, feel this every time he writes a book And how about this As Nashe and Pozzi discovered, it was one thing to lift a sixty pound stone, but once that stone had been lifted, it was quite another thing to lift a second sixty pound stone, and still another thing to take on the third stone after lifting the second No matter how strong they felt while lifting the first, much of that strength would be gone by the time they came to the second Every time they worked on the wall, Nashe and Pozzi came up against the same bewitching conundrum all the stones were identical, and yet each stone was heavier than the one before it This is the best book I have ever read about art, that s not about art For what are great works of art, especially novels, made of Heavy lifting and geologic patience.