Friday, December 31, 2010

Sunset Park

Somehow I've become a big reader of Paul Auster. I think this is the fifth book of his I have read in two years (maybe fourth). Auster loads his fiction with a lot of fact. Sunset Park is a part of Brooklyn and is the primary setting for the story. Miles Heller leaves his father and stepmother in his early twenties after hearing a conversation between them about himself. Miles is racked with guilt because he (accidentally?) caused the death of his stepbrother years before and Miles has never been the same.

Miles wanders the country and ends up in Florida (by which time he is 28) where he runs into 17 year-old Pilar Sanchez in a park. They are both reading The Great Gatsby and the two begin a relationship. Pilar moves in with Miles but when Miles has a spat with Pilar's oldest sister, Miles returns to New York to evade possible legal difficulties.

Miles moves into an abandoned house in Sunset Park with an old friend of his and two other squatters. The novel jumps around between all the characters and the story is moved ahead with each different perspective.

All in all, there doesn't seem to be much plot. It's definitely more about the characters than any particular story. Auster's attention to factual detail is amazing. He references a movie from the 1940's and the characters in it (everything true that I can determine). He talks about ex-baseball players Herb Score, Mark Fidrych and Lucky Lohrke (all details factually correct (and who writes about Lucky Lohrke?)). It wouldn't surprise me if the house in which Heller and his friends reside actually exists. Also, despite Heller being involved with a minor, Heller doesn't come off as creepy.

Sunset Park is a good book but definitely not as good as other works of Auster's I've read.

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