Friday, March 03, 2006

Auster's Music of Chance Unsatisfying

20. The Music of Chance, Paul Auster, Fiction, 2-2, pp. 217

An unexpected inheritance arrives too late to save Jim Nashe’s marriage. Consequently, he packs his young daughter off to his sister’s, quits his job and embarks on a purposeless cross country drive. So begins Paul Auster’s equally purposeless The Music of Chance.

Just as his funds begin to dwindle, Nashe picks up a young hitchhiker, who has clearly been beaten. The hitchhiker turns out to be a foul-mouthed wannabe gambler, robbed of his funds while en route to a high stakes game with two millionaires.

Nashe risks what’s left of his inheritance by staking the gambler in his can’t miss venture. Of course, can’t miss can and the gambler, Jack Pozzi, loses all Nashe’s money and his car. Destitute and oweing the two millionaires a substantial sum, Nashe and Pozzi are virtually enslaved as they agree to work off their debt.

The book is replete with homoerotic implications. There’s enough strangeness to fill a much larger book, including a weird model “City of the World” and a mysterious wall being erected in a meadow.

Auster fails to resolve several plot points—the millionaires virtually vanish from the pages of the novel, we never do learn Pozzi’s ultimate fate or truly understand what drives Nashe to his final, inexplicable act. The Music of Chance raises more questions than it answers. The lack of resolution is as unsatisfying as is the read.

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