Saturday, June 25, 2011

Squatter Park

I'm not sure why I decided to read Sunset Park by Paul AusterThe NYT review is not great.  I somehow had the impression that Sunset Park would be a novel of the new recession, like The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter.  True, the protagonist is working as a person who cleans out foreclosed homes at the beginning of the story, and becomes a squatter later on.  But  even with those facts, Sunset Park could have been based in any time, and didn't really speak to the financial downturn as I expected it would. 

When I picked up the CD, I was excited because the author, Paul Auster, reads Sunset Park himself, like Aimee Bender did with The Particular Sadness of Lemon CakeBut where Lemon Cake needed Bender to read the story in order to get the proper inflection and make the story believable, Auster seems uncomfortable with his novel, and reads almost without fluctuation in tone.  Now I'm not saying that I want him to invent Disney-like voices for each character, but while listening to Sunset I had the impression that Auster felt like he was standing at the front of his writing class, reading to his peers while shuffling his feet, refusing to meet their eyes.

I really wanted to like Sunset, but at the end, it just sort of annoyed me.  This is something of a spoiler, but it was almost infuriating that the characters who were squatting felt indignation at being forcibly evicted from their "home" after receiving several notices.  The character who was writing her dissertation didn't have it on a flashdrive at another location when she knew the police could come and throw her stuff on the street at any time?  Really?  I'm sorry, but I couldn't find sympathy for these squatters who considered their action a social experiment. 

Next up on CD:  The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Still Reading:  All is Vanity  by Christina Schwarz

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