One of the books I received as a present for my birthday was ‘Oracle night’ by Paul Auster. Never having read any of his novels, I could only guess the surprise that awaited me between these pages. Not being a big fan of stories set in contemporary background, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the descriptions of the streets of New York. They gave the atmosphere of the novel a down-to-Earth feeling which made the story sound even more realistic.
The protagonist is a writer called Sidney Orr who we find still recovering from a near-fatal illness. On one of his usual walks in his neighborhood in Brooklyn he comes across a stationary shop where he buys a blue notebook. Not having written a single sentence since he almost died, Sidney Orr is eager to begin something new between the lines of his new possession. To this moment the story sounds quite ordinary and unless something magical happens there is little to be expected in the further development of the plot. But sometimes reality surprises us with its hidden secrets and unexplained mysteries more than the fantastical tales that human imagination can make up.
From the moment Orr’s pen touches the first blank page of the blue notebook the world around the writer starts changing. He loses grip and floats away in a universe created by him. Sidney Orr is more than compelled and words just seem to flow like a river from his mind and into the material world. His absence from reality threatens to ruin his marriage. And that’s when strange things begin to happen. His wife bursts into tears in a cab with no particular reason hours after he begins writing his new story. The owner of the stationary shop M. R. Chang disappears alongside with his business the day after Sidney Orr buys the blue notebook. And the apparition of the seemingly non-existent connection between a 1938 Warsaw telephone directory and a lost novel in which the hero can predict the future. I’m going to stop here before I unintentionally give out any spoilers.
Paul Auster gives his readers an amazing opportunity to a first hand glance in the every day life of a contemporary author. Through the entwined fate of his characters the true power of words is brought out from the depths of passivity in a seat in the front row. Because there are certain circumstances that shape our destiny and what is once written may come to pass. Sidney Orr is bound to find that out in practice and by a much unexpected way. One must be careful with not only what is said but with also what is penned down.
The story does not have a one-way-highway type of a plot line that is extended in a few layers. By this method the novel acquires a depth with which the author can send different messages to his readership. Blood is not always thicker than water and at some point animosity can explode into violence. At such moments all human is forgotten. But at the end of it all, after all the obstacles and all the absurdities that life throws, it is understood that forgiveness is the ultimate expression of love. Paul Auster’s ‘Oracle night’ is a book fit to be devoured at only one sitting. As sad as this may sound to those who like to enjoy the long process of reading, I assure you that the aftertaste is worth it all. So don’t waste any more time in front of the computer screen and grab this book and see for yourself what a wonder the “Oracle Night’ truly is.