Music of chance
Before anything else – can I just say how much I love the title? Just on its own – it seems to me so full of promise and mystery, with an almost occult aura. I guess I’m getting carried away, but if you stop and think about it for a bit, it really is a phrase ripe with possibility.
Anyways – I can’t say I’m equally excited about the contents. It’s typical Auster – man losing his way, getting dragged into a game with fate – which can be both a good and a bad thing. Good – because similarity brings some kind of comfort and certainty and bad…for much of the same reasons (helpful much? :D). But this is what I’ve come to expect of Mr. Auster; he’s my literary security blanket and I love him for it.
Like in many of his other works (Book of illusions and Brooklyn follies come to mind) this one also deals with both the lust for the road and the constant search for an elusive something that would give life sense, meaning. And it fits my mood these days perfectly – that’s why reading the first half of the book was like stepping into some kind of wish fulfillment fantasy. I’ve spent so much time not travelling lately that now it’s pretty much all I think about. I want to just go, change the scenery, see new things and stop wondering if this is all there is. Do I sound crazy? I guess it’s just an itch that needs scratching, but that’s why being in a car with Nashe for 60 pages or so was just what I needed. Aimless travel & money out of the blue (Nashe’s unexpected inheritance; Flower & Stone’s lottery win) – again, talk about your wish fulfillment…
Nashe meets Jack Pozzi, a passionate poker player, on the road and decides to get in on the action with the last of his money. When Pozzi loses (after a prolonged game which I couldn’t exactly follow; I’m not a poker player myself) in front of millionaires Stone & Flower, they are confronted with a deal: their debt will be erased when they erect a wall (made out of stones from an ancient Irish castle) on the domain. At 10$/hour, they spend a few months building the thing, but then…nah…I won’t spoil the ending. Wikipedia will though.
The deal in itself is, of course, surreal, absurd – as are the outlandish characters of Stone & Flower. But Nashe seems to have found his peace here; the work is hard and keeps his mind of the emptiness he was trying to fill with as many miles as possible in his little Saab. And the ending…at first felt out of character; but the more I thought about it, the more it struck me as appropriate. After all, the idea of the book is that the universe is random and meaningless. Which can be either depressing – or freeing.