cover image The Locked Room

The Locked Room

Paul Auster. Sun and Moon Press, $13.95 (179pp) ISBN 978-0-940650-76-3

In this final volume of his haunting New York Trilogy (City of Glass and Ghosts each representing different aspects of the same story), poet and novelist Auster deepens his exploration of the writer's mind. The narrator here gets a summons from Sophie, the wife of his boyhood friend Fanshawe, who has vanished mysteriously, and then from Fanshawe himself. He is to oversee the publication of Fanshawe's waywardly brilliant works, marry his deserted wife and reconstruct Fanshawe's life in order to write his biography. Fanshawe, expecting to die soon, sends these mournful words: ""Writing was an illness that plagued me for a long time, but now I have recovered from it.'' The narrator's obsession with his task grows stealthily upon him: he retraces Fanshawe's development, hoping to ferret out the mystery of his identity and genius, only to find that each man exists within the other (``he was inside me day and night''). Doubling and mirroring, the writer's overlapping lives increase his isolation and unknowability even to himself and thicken the intrigue. Auster's wonderfully lucid narrative voice, together with the specific echoing of Poe, Hawthorne and Melville, affirm his kinship with the classic American tale in page-turning fiction that is fresh and compelling. (January 20)