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Authors: Paul Auster

The Music of Chance

BOOK: The Music of Chance
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Praise for
The Music of Chance


The Music of Chance
is witty, even jaunty—you won’t read much better writing anywhere about the lure of the open road—and it catches the reader in a surprisingly strong spell. It’s still further evidence that Auster is one of the few contemporary American novelists whose work is both original and interesting.”


The Washington Post

“A tour de force about freedom and imprisonment, motion and stasis, order and randomness … its story beautifully paced and shaped, its tone powerfully ominous, its prose unfailingly limpid, supple, and energetic.”


The Wall Street Journal

“Paul Auster’s fiction combines an exceptionally smooth and poised style with an old-fashioned commitment to intricate plotting…. The prose gives his novels an irresistible charm, the plot sweeps the reader into unexpected and dizzying byways of the mind. The experience is a bit like swimming in beautiful and exotic waters.”


New York Newsday


The Music of Chance
tackles all those serious themes that American novelists aren’t supposed to be good at anymore: fate, loyalty, responsibility, the nature of evil, and the real meaning of freedom. A thriller with conscience,
The Music of Chance
is one of the best American novels of the year.”


Entertainment Weekly

“With
The Music of Chance
, Auster continues to explore and elaborate upon his particular brand of fictional obsessions, even as he widens the range and flexibility of his subject matter and narrative voice.”


Chicago Tribune

“Offbeat and strangely compelling … In this lucid, captivating yarn, Auster quietly raises disturbing questions of servants and masters, of loyalty, freedom, and the inexplicable urge to kill.”


Publishers Weekly

“Auster works over the language of the novel with the eyes of a poet and hands of a storyteller….
The Music of Chance
sustains the brilliance of his previous writing, providing another rare experience of contemporary fiction at its most thrilling.”

—New Statesman
& Society
(London)

“A carefully plotted work, elegantly sparse in its narration as it narrows to a concentrated conclusion of great intensity. There is pleasure to be had not only from Auster’s prose but also from the odd mixture of detachment and suspense that the novel induces.”


The
New
York Review of Books

“This story is a maze of literary mind games—metaphors and references that ricochet playfully from page to page. It is an exceptional novel about the interplay of freedom and chance which takes you on an engrossing tour of a man’s inner life.”


Los Angeles Times

“Auster’s sleight of hand imbues his work with a haunting sense of the uncanny…. An intriguing story about one man’s escape from freedom.”


San Francisco Chronicle

“He can write with the speed and skill of a self-assured pool player, sending one bizarre event ricocheting neatly and unexpectedly into the next … creating a narrative that continually manages to elude our expectations. A chilling little story that’s entertaining, provocative, and resonant.”


The New York Times

“Auster writes in a cooly sustained neo-noir voice tinged with existential mystery.
The Music of Chance
is never less than fascinating, Auster’s prose is simple and driven…. He is a writer unafraid of intensity, eager to enlarge his clever novels with universal questions.”


The Boston Globe

“Paul Auster is one of America’s most spectacularly inventive writers. His narratives slide easily from the ordinary to the just-plausible to the impossibly outlandish…. His prose remains unflappable, meticulously recording the details of even the most extreme situations with elegance and precision. Auster is an experimental writer who is also compulsively readable…. His novels are impossible to put down.”


The Times Literary Supplement
(London)


The Music of Chance
is a rare achievement: a novel of formal sophistication which is not consciously exquisite or ostentatiously ground-breaking; a novel whose philosophical concerns convincingly arise out of its action and the fates of its characters, without airily rising above them or schematically giving rise to them; a novel in which the consciousness of an all-unsettling uncertainty does not abolish moral urgency about the seriousness of human bonds. Its dramatic meditation on the moments when things are ‘in harmony’ and the other moments when they go ‘out of whack’ gives, rightly, no answers—but it gives clear form to the chaos we sense ourselves verging on when coincidence suddenly shifts our inner bearings.”


London Review of Books

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

PAUL AUSTER is the author of the novels
The Brooklyn Follies, Oracle Night, The Book of Illusions, Timbuktu, Mr. Vertigo, Leviathan
(awarded the 1993 Prix Medicis Étranger),
The Music of Chance
(nominated for the 1991 PEN/Faulkner Award),
Moon Palace, In the Country of Last Things
, and the three novels known as “The New York Trilogy”:
City of Glass, Ghosts
, and
The Locked Room
. He has also written two memoirs (
The Invention of Solitude
and
Hand to Mouth
), a collection of essays, and a volume of poems, and edited the book
I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR’s National Story Project
. Auster was the recipient of the 2006 Prince of Asturias Award for Letters and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006. He has won literary fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in both poetry and prose, and in 1990 received the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He wrote the screenplays for
Smoke, Blue in the Face
, and
Lulu on the Bridge
, which he also directed. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

THE MUSIC
OF CHANCE

Paul Auster

PENGUIN BOOKS

PENGUIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in the United States of America by
Viking Penguin, a division of
Penguin Books USA Inc., 1990
Published in Penguin Books 1991

Copyright © Paul Auster, 1990
All rights reserved

PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGUED THE HARDCOVER AS FOLLOWS:
Auster, Paul, 1947–
The music of chance / Paul Auster.

p. cm.
ISBN 0-670-83535-8 (hc.)
ISBN 978-01-40-15407-8 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-1-101-56260-4 (epub)
I. Title.
PS3551.U77M87 1990
813’.54—dc20 90–50005

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

1

F
or one whole year he did nothing but drive, traveling back and forth across America as he waited for the money to run out. He hadn’t expected it to go on that long, but one thing kept leading to another, and by the time Nashe understood what was happening to him, he was past the point of wanting it to end. Three days into the thirteenth month, he met up with the kid who called himself Jackpot. It was one of those random, accidental encounters that seem to materialize out of thin air—a twig that breaks off in the wind and suddenly lands at your feet. Had it occurred at any other moment, it is doubtful that Nashe would have opened his mouth. But because he had already given up, because he figured there was nothing to lose anymore, he saw the stranger as a reprieve, as a last chance to do something for himself before it was too late. And just like that, he went ahead and did it. Without the slightest tremor of fear, Nashe closed his eyes and jumped.

BOOK: The Music of Chance
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