Henry Holt & Co
December 10, 2003
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". . . a fast, easy read, [the author] abandons the premise of the work."
". . . a fast-paced story of nine confusing days."
"The reader feels just like Nick,
Paul Auster''s newest novel, Oracle Night, is a fast-paced story of nine confusing days in the life of author Sidney Orr. As serious relationships begin to arise between his entries in a mysterious blue notebook and the world around him, the lines between reality and imagination are blurred. The seeming power of the notebook fills Sidney with both fascination and terror.
Having recently recovered from a life threatening illness, Sidney is taking his time returning to the daily bustle of life in New York City. While wandering through Brooklyn he enters the Paper Palace, a unique stationary shop run by the equally unique M.R. Chang, and purchases the blue notebook. Deciding that it is time to start making a living again, he begins to write a new story.
Sidney''s story is about Nick Bowen, a relatively happily married man who has a near miss with death one night and his world turns upside down. He leaves his wife, job–everything
he owns–behind and hops on a plane to a new city to start a new life. Upon landing in his new city, he is befriended by a retired taxi driver, Ed Victory, who employs him to reorganize the Bureau of Historical Preservation. But the Bureau is in a vault underground, and one evening Nick gets locked in. Sidney leaves him there.
While writing Nick''s tale, Sidney''s life also seems to have changed. Grace, his wife, is fighting some grief she won''t share with him, then announces that she is pregnant and
leaves for a few days. Upon her return she requests that he ask her no questions about what is going on. Family friend, John Trause, is fighting a painful illness of his own as well
as trying to locate his degenerate son, Jacob.
While Auster''s book is a fast, easy read, he abandons the premise of the work. The reader follows Sidney through nine days of his life, all influenced by the presence of the blue notebook, and yet he comes to no conclusion about it at the
end. Is there something special about the notebook? Is it just coincidence that so many weird things are happening at once? By the end of the book the reader feels just like Nick,
trapped and left behind.