If length is the criteria for this year’s Man Booker Prize, then at nearly 900 pages Paul Auster’s “4321” justifiably is on the Long list. Otherwise this coming of age third person narrative that chronicles post-World War II American history through the eyes of a liberal Jewish boy growing up in the Metro New York City area is not deserving. is journeyman prose and unrealistic protagonist(s) with literary aspirations, is complex, but unsympathetic.
The twist is that there are actually four principal protagonists intertwined with essentially the same ensemble of characters, each with slightly different life paths. If you had not read any reviews of this book, the book jacket, or the last six pages of the book, you would think that the editor and author missed a lot of logical and factual inconsistencies throughout the book. In the novel there are no clear lines of demarcation between each variation of the lives of the principal character, Archie Ferguson. Sequential flashbacks complicate the reading of this novel. Neither the experimental nature of the organization of the novel, nor the theme that each of our lives can take different paths, warrant the inclusion of this novel on the Long List.
For baby boomers who have lived through the American history that the lives of Archie Ferguson trace there is no new information to learn from this book.
At about half the length the book may be tolerable. For me it was a waste of time.