The Book of Illusions
is a novel
by American writer Paul Auster
, published in 2002.
Set in the late 1980s, the story is written from the perspective of David Zimmer, a university professor who, after losing his wife and children in a plane crash
, falls into a routine of depression and isolation
. After seeing one of the silent comedies
of Hector Mann, an actor missing
since the 1920s, he decides to occupy himself by watching all of Mann's films and writing a book about them. The publishing of the book, however, triggers another series of events that draw Zimmer even deeper into the actor's past.
The middle of the story is largely dedicated to telling the life story of Hector Mann, involving his self-imposed exile from his past life and career, which serves as a form of penance for his role in the death of a woman who loved him. In his last days, his wife sends a letter to Zimmer, requesting him to come to their New Mexico
home to bear witness to Mann's final legacy of films. The events that ensue form the overarching story of Zimmer's rehabilitation from his reclusive
state, and his coming to terms with the manner in which his family was killed.
Links to other works
The book makes many direct references to the autobiography of François-René de Chateaubriand
, Mémoires d'outre-tombe
; one of Zimmer's ongoing projects is producing a new translation of the book.
David Zimmer appears in Auster's earlier novel Moon Palace
.The Book of Illusions
revisits a... Read More