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Analysis / The New York Trilogy

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An analysis of "Ghosts" from The New York Trilogy:

Paul Auster’s 'Ghosts' transforms the crime fiction genre to explore issues of language, literature and the relationship between the author and their characters. Often classified as ‘meta-detective’ fiction, Auster adopts the traditional detective’s quest for the truth as a metaphor for a protagonist’s search for an identity outside the framework of the text. He therefore reflects on a Postmodernist era where more and more individuals embraced the notion of mistrust of established order. This is also evident in the simile in “they have trapped Blue into doing nothing…like a man who has been condemned to sit in a room…for the rest of his life” where Auster draws influence from the ‘Locked Room’ sub-genre as a metaphor for the situation of a character in a novel, as the author controls their actions and future.

In addition Auster, through Blue’s surveillance as a spy, addresses notions of language distorting meaning and the truth in “he discovers that words do not necessarily work, that it is possible for them to obscure the things that they are trying to say” as well as making an address to the reader that in crime writing, the language can also distort the ‘truth’ presented. 'Ghosts' demonstrates how the dynamic nature of genre overturns the responders’ preconceptions of generic forms, in distorting the underlying meaning associated with elements of crime writing to create the effect of what Auster himself believes to be “a parable about reading a book.”