methode-times-prod-web-bin-c22b074e-dd9c-11e6-a7b1-3a60b507a068I always thought Paul Auster wanted to be Don Delillo or Thomas Pynchon, but reading “4321,” his latest novel, I’m thinking maybe he has wanted to be Philip Roth all along. There is an epic quality to “4321” and this novel is certainly an attempt to be a Great American Novel in the vein of “American Pastoral.” Although this is no Great American Novel, it is a wonderful coming of age story, and Auster’s affinity for postmodernism comes out in the structure. Archie Ferguson doesn’t have one life, he has four. There is something realistic and astute about capturing four versions of an individual’s existence as this cubistic view reveals the fragility of life and the monumental effects that choices and circumstances can manifest. Auster is never as great as Roth or Delillo, despite the numerous attempts. Regardless, this is a ambitious, impressive novel about the contingent nature of life and how art, relationships, experiences and events create a person. Reading about this universal truth — that we become who we are through other people — is engaging, enlightening and very fun.

Nicole Charbonnet


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