Novels The New York Trilogy (City of Glass • Ghosts • The Locked Room) • In the Country of Last Things • Moon Palace • The Music of Chance • Leviathan • Mr. Vertigo • Timbuktu • The Book of Illusions • Oracle Night
Nonfiction White Spaces • The Invention of Solitude • The Art of Hunger • Why Write? • Hand to Mouth • The Red Notebook • Collected Prose
Screenplays 3Films: Smoke, Blue in the Face, Lulu on the Bridge
Poetry Unearth • Wall Writing • Fragments from Cold • Facing the Music • Disappearances: Selected Poems • Collected Poems
Illustrated Books The Story of My Typewriter (with Sam Messer) • Auggie Wren's Christmas Story (with Isol) • City of Glass (adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli)
Editor The Random House Book of Twentieth-CenturyFrench Poetry • I Thought My Father Was God and Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project
THE BROOKLYN FOLLIES
Henry Holt and Company
Henry Holt and Company, LLC Publishers since 1866 175 Fifth Avenue New York, New York 10010 www.henryholt.com Henry Holt® and ® are registered trademarks of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.Copyright © 2006 by Paul Auster All rights reserved. Distributed in Canada by H. B. Fenn and Company Ltd. "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," by Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II © 1927, renewed 1954, 1975, 2002 by Universal-Polygram International Publishing/ASCAP. Used by permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Auster, Paul, 1947TheBrooklyn follies / Paul Auster.—-1st ed. p. 7714-6 1. Middle aged men—Fiction. 2. Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)—Fiction. 3. Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)—Fiction. 4. Autobiography—Authorship— Fiction. 5. Retirees—Fiction. I. Title cm. ISBN-13: 978-08050-7714-8 ISBN-10: 0-8050-
PS3551.U77B76 2006 813'.54—dc22 2005040201
Henry Holt books are available for special promotions and premiums. For detailscontact: Director, Special Markets. First Edition 2006 Designed by Victoria Hartman Printed in the United States of America 13579 10 8642
For my daughter Sophie
THE BROOKLYN FOLLIES
I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn, and so the next morning I traveled down there from Westchester to scope out the terrain. I hadn't been back in fiftysixyears, and I remembered nothing. My parents had moved out of the city when I was three, but I instinctively found myself returning to the neighborhood where we had lived, crawling home like some wounded dog to the place of my birth. A local real estate agent ushered me around to six or seven brownstone flats, and by the end of the afternoon I had rented a twobedroom garden apartment on First Street,just half a block away from Prospect Park. I had no idea who my neighbors were, and I didn't care. They all worked at nine-to-five jobs, none of them had any children, and therefore the building would be relatively silent. More than anything else, that was what I craved. A silent end to my sad and ridiculous life. The house in Bronxville was already under contract, and once the closing took placeat the end of the month, money wasn't going to be a problem. My ex-wife and I were planning to split the proceeds from the sale, and with four hundred thousand dollars in the bank, there would be more than enough to sustain me until I stopped breathing.
PAUL AU STE R
At first, I didn't know what to do with myself. I had spent thirty-one years commuting back and forth between thesuburbs and the Manhattan offices of Mid-Atlantic Accident and Life, but now that I didn't have a job anymore, there were too many hours in the day. About a week after I moved into the apartment, my married daughter, Rachel, drove in from New Jersey to pay me a visit. She said that I needed to get involved in something, to invent a project for myself. Rachel is not a stupid person. She has a doctorate...