Oracle Night is a story that should be measured by its depth, rather than by its length. Our protagonist and narrator, Sidney Orr, takes us on a complicated journey that is only possible to follow thanks to Auster’s simple, yet masterful prose. Our protagonist is a novelist from Brooklyn who recently recovered from a near-fatal illness, and who is trying to get back on the writing game. This effort, beginning with the finding of a curious blue notebook, will take him on a series of outlandish adventrures across the city, always bordering the dangerous and the ridiculous. This is a tale that will make us question if love can truly conquer it all.
The narration concerning Sidney consists of a few days only, and even though some of the events are dark and bizarre, the reader is instantly transported to that summer of 1982 in the city of New York, the happenings becoming crystal clear. The novel, although complex in its structure, with its hypertext features and the blurred lines between fiction and reality, is still approachable for the reader, as it dwells with universal themes: the meaning of freedom, the power of love and friendship, the return to animal instincts, lust and success. The novel Sidney writes within the novel is especially attractive; Nick’s story is as compelling as Sidney’s, although a lot more claustrophobic.
Auster is in his area of expertise when leaving questions unanswered – if you’re a reader who needs every answer, you picked the wrong author. By not filling in every blank, Auster makes the reader an active participant of Oracle Night, and, purposefully, the very core of the novel consists of how fiction and words can influence and redirect our realities. Needless to say, this theme is incredibly engaging for the reader and Auster drives it to its maximum potential, while also making the story in itself altogether more attractive by setting it in New York City. A true New Yorker, the author shines on careful details about the city, its streets and its atmosphere. For the life of me, I cannot think of anything more Auster-like than contemplating the mysterious impact of stories in our lives, while also finding beauty and inspiration walking down the streets of Brooklyn.
By Ana Terrizzano from Unicenter’s branch
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