What is it about?
This graphic novel adaptation of Paul Auster’s short story of the same name is, in a word, bizarre. The main character, Daniel Quinn, is a writer of crime books, a poet, and a widower with a dead son who spends an unnatural amount of time without clothes on. It all starts when he gets a mysterious phone call asking for Paul Auster (a nice piece of author self-insertion), a private detective, to protect a former victim of child abuse from a potential murder threat. After some deliberation, he decides to take on both the role of Paul Auster and the case being offered to him. What follows is a tale of religion, language, and of losing one’s self in New York City.
Is it any good?
The story feels somewhat weak, but this can be at least partially excused – the brilliance here comes from the meaning of the story, not the story itself. Whilst it is hard to follow in places, it is unpredictable and interesting to the very last. The characters are fascinating, from Daniel Quinn to the odd couple he agrees to help. The artwork greatly adds to the story and does more than just help the narrative – the pictures act as metaphors in places, illustrating points that words alone could never fully get across. However, it feels like the story is trying too hard to make an overall point that just didn’t come across in full for me – although this could be the fault of my own inferior intelligence. There are some things too that I expected to be expanded upon but that are suddenly dropped, for example the mysterious ‘splitting’ of Peter Stillman the Elder which doubtless was yet another metaphor that floated straight over my head. It’s a quick read though, and is entertaining – definitely a book that is worth your time, even if it perhaps leaves you with more questions than it answers.
How long did it take to read: two hours
For fans of: Don Quixote, metaphors, New York City, mysteries that lack answers, philosophy, Art Spiegelman’s Maus
This book tastes like: bad filter coffee served in a mug formerly used as an ashtray