Paul Auster’s latest novel, Man in the Dark, is his fifteenth—counting Squeeze Play, his baseball mystery written as Paul Benjamin. Over the past twenty-five years, Auster has established one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature. As Washington Post critic Michael Dirda once wrote:
Ever since City of Glass, the first volume of his New York Trilogy, Auster has perfected a limpid, confessional style, then used it to set disoriented heroes in a seemingly familiar world gradually suffused with mounting uneasiness, vague menace and possible hallucination. His plots—drawing on elements from suspense stories, existential récit and autobiography—keep readers turning the pages, but sometimes end by leaving them uncertain about what they’ve just been through.
In particular, as his many admirers know, his narrative voice is as hypnotic as that of the Ancient Mariner. Start one of his books and by page two you cannot choose but hear. While Paul Auster may not have a glittering eye, he still knows how to keep a reader spellbound.
In the New York Review of Books, Dirda reassesses Auster’s oeuvre in the wake of the author’s latest novel, Man in the Dark.