Get set for more mind fluffery from Paul Auster, the master of dark existential wonder, as he returns with his latest hardback release, 4 3 2 1. This time he’s taking on the concept of infinite possibilities, which isn’t exactly a simple challenge, even within the confines of the four story Sliding Doors-like narrative that he’s crafted, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it all swirls together.
Out on hardback on the 31st January 2017, and stacking up at a whopping 880 pages, it should be a fairly heft book release. It’ll also be available on ebook, but it isn’t listed on Audible as of yet, so it may not be available on audiobook straight away. A lot of Paul Auster’s previous work is out on audiobook though, so we’ll be surprised if 4 3 2 1 doesn’t get a release in the end.
The story heads back to 1947 to start things off with the birth of Archibald Isaac Ferguson in Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. From that point on the developments fragments into four different possibilities of his future as subtle changes expand with butterfly effect progression, taking each iteration of Ferguson on a very different path.
Family fortunes shard and sift in a variety of directions, while his love life evolves in unique ways in each of the four possible realities. Friendships vary as much as his academic interests do with each of his four selves going their separate ways to create almost entirely indistinguishable realities. What holds it all together are significant moments in history that define our own understanding of the 20th century, providing anchors around which the four parallel possibilities pivot.
Paul Auster has never been one for following convention and while 4 3 2 1 is not an entirely unique concept, the fact that it covers four alternate realities and takes in such a large period of time makes it more of a significant dissection of causality. It’s going to be a fun mental challenge keeping up with all of the varying shifting sands as the four narratives loop around to build out their own story.
Where The New York Trilogy took the reader on an introspective journey for the author within the veil of detection thriller fiction, 4 3 2 1 takes us all on our own journey of existential discovery through the life of Archibald Ferguson. If you don’t already ponder the micro decisions you make every day and wonder what might have been, you will start to after reading Auster’s latest work.