the ledge files
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The Music of Chance
Paul Auster
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 1990

refered to by:
The Castle
Franz Kafka

The Outsider
Albert Camus

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Auster's offbeat and strangely compelling black comedy invites speculation about the counterpointing of choice and chance, and carries resonances of Samuel Beckett. With a windfall of nearly $200,000, Jim Nashe abandons his stalled life, leaves his small daughter Juliette with Minnesota relatives and compulsively drives around the country for a year. He meets a frail, spunky, badly beaten youngster, self-advertised jackpot winner Jack Pozzi, and agrees to finance Pozzi in an epic poker match against an apparently childlike but actually malign pair named Flower and Stone in their remote mansion. Ruined in the game, Nashe and Pozzi try to work off their huge debt by building a wall out of 10,000 stones from an imported Irish castle, under the baleful overseer Murks, who gets Nashe's prized car. Affection springs up between Nashe and 'the kid,' Pozzi, but optimism erodes as their plight becomes clear, disaster befalls Pozzi and numbing toil stretches endlessly. In his lucid, captivating yarn, Auster quietly raises disturbing questions of servants and masters, of loyalty, freedom and the inexplicable urge to kill.

- Publisher's Weekly


The New York Trilogy
1985-1986 (published together in 1990)
Three stories on the nature of identity. In the first a detective writer is drawn into a curious and baffling investigation, in the second a man is set up in an apartment to spy on someone, and the third concerns the disappearance of a man whose childhood friend is left as his literary executor.
The Music of Chance
Nashe comes into an inheritance and decides to pursue a life of freedom. He meets Pozzi, a gambler, who exerts a terrible fascination over him, and together they take a desperate gamble.
Oracle Night
Several months into his recovery from a near-fatal illness, novelist Sidney Orr enters a Brooklyn stationery shop and buys a blue notebook. It is September 18th, 1982, and for the next nine days Orr will live under the spell of this blank book, within a world of eerie premonitions.

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850
The tale of a passionate woman in 17th-century Boston who challenges the system of moral authority and places belief in the higher law of her own heart.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain, 1884-1885
The story of Huck and his companion Jim, a runaway slave, as they travel down the Mississippi to escape from slavery and 'sivilization'.

The Castle
Franz Kafka, 1926P
'published posthumously'
The story of K., the unwanted Land Surveyor who is never admitted to the Castle nor accepted in the village, and yet cannot go home, seems to depict like a dream from the deepest recesses of consciousness, an inexplicable truth about the nature of existence.

The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett, 1930
The Maltese Falcon set the standard by which the private eye genre is judged.

The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler, 1939
The Big Sleep was Raymond Chandler's first novel and features Philp Marlowe, the neat, cleanshaven and sober man who is everything the well-dressed detective should be.

The Outsider
Albert Camus, 1942
('cycle des absurdes')
An ordinary man is unwittingly caught up in a senseless murder in Algeria.

William Wilson
Edgar Allan Poe, 1839
'William Wilson' is Poe’s most sustained character study of the doppelganger, or double.

City of Glass
When a stranger calls on Daniel Quinn's phone asking to speak to Paul Auster (supposedly a detective), Quinn claims to be Auster and soon is drawn into a case involving a man who fears his father is trying to kill him. ('Part I' of 'The New York Trilogy', 1985)

Samuel Beckett, 1947 (published in 1951)
Part I of a trilogy of novels. Written in the first person, Molloy consists of two monologues - that of Molloy on his odyssey towards his mother, lost in town and country and finally emerging from the forest; and that of Moran, a private detective who is sent to find him.

The Erasers
Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1953
A detective must solve a murder that hasn't yet been committed.

[Het huis M]
Atte Jongstra, 1993
The inspector himself is the suspect in these 'memoires of a speaker.'

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886
In seeking to discover his inner self, the brilliant Dr Jekyll discovers a monster.

The Dark Room of Damokles
Willem Frederik Hermans, 1958
"WWII novels"
Nihilistic novel about a weakling drawn into the Resistance by his (stronger) doppelgänger - or was it just his imagination?

The White Castle
Orhan Pamuk, 1985
A young Italian scholar is captured by pirates. Put up for auction at the Istanbul slave market, he is bought by a Turkish servant, eager to learn about scientific and intellectual advances in the West.

The Secret Sharer
Joseph Conrad, 1910
A captain saves a young stowaway and hides him in his cabin.

Mahomed's Double
Jorges Luis Borges, 1936
Short story by the 'master of mirrors.' See also Borges and I.

Borges and I
Jorges Luis Borges, 1946
Short story by the 'master of mirrors.' See also Mahomed's Double.

Snow Falling on Cedars
David Guterson, 1994
In 1954, Ishmael Chambers, a local reporter who lost an arm in the war, covers the murder trial of a Japanese-American fisherman, whose wife had been Ishmael's boyhood sweetheart.

The Cave
Tim Krabbé, 2001
Can a single encounter with evil poison an entire life?

The Fall
Marga Minco, 1983
The fatal fall of a Jewish woman is contrasted with the falling accident that saved her from deportation 40 years earlier.

Moon Palace

Mr. Vertigo

The Book of Illusions

Auster filters the 'homeless experience' through the relentlessly unsentimental eye of a dog.
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The Ledge
editor-in-chief: Stacey Knecht,
Thanks to: De digitale pioniers and
Het Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
Design: Maurits de Bruijn

Copyright: Pieter Steinz, Stacey Knecht
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