At 60, Nathan Glass has decided there's nothing left to do but wait to die. And then, he reconnects with a long-lost nephew and embarks on a series of adventures and friendships that show him that, as long as you are still breathing, there is always another chance. This book was kind of silly, definitely not the best book I've ever read. But it was incredibly readable. And it was full of flashes of truth and beauty that blew me away. Paul Auster is a man who knows the secrets of the universe, and they come through in everything he writes. I don't think I will ever forget this beautiful passage:
I want to talk about happiness and well-being, about those rare, unexpected moments when the voice in your head goes silent and you feel at one with the world.
I want to talk about the early June weather, about harmony and blissful repose, about robins and yellow finches and bluebirds darting past the green leaves of trees.
I want to talk about the benefits of sleep, about the pleasures of food and alcohol, about what happens to your mind when you step into the light of the two o'clock sun and feel the warm embrace of air around your body. I want to talk about Tom and Lucy, about Stanley Chowder and the four days we spent at the Chowder Inn, about the thoughts we thought and the dreams we dreamed on that hilltop in southern Vermont.
I want to remember the cerulean dusks, the languorous, rosy dawns, the bears yelping in the woods at night.
I want to remember it all. If all is too much to ask, then some of it. No, more than some of it. Almost all. Almost all, with blanks reserved for the missing parts.
UPDATED TO ADD: I give up. I just have to add this. I cannot stop thinking about a section of the book involving a mentally ill person. She has figured out that a person is born about every 40 seconds, and a person dies about every 50 seconds. So every 40 seconds, she shouts out "Rejoice!" and every 50 seconds she shouts "Grieve!" And I guess this is insane behavior, but it sums up this crazy world of polar opposites so perfectly. A world in which death and birth can both can exist. A world full of hate and love. A world in which a battlefield and a serene mountain lake can exist, in all their horror and peace, at the same time. When you sit down and really think about that, it is stunning, unbelievable. And this way of putting words around that experience is extremely powerful for me. I find myself perceiving the world now in these terms. My unending bronchitis nightmare? Grieve! My daughter's unstoppable zest for life? Rejoice! My fear of death and calamity? Grieve! The perfection of a crisp fall day? Rejoice!