Paul Auster’s Moon Palace tells the story of Marco Stanley Fogg, a young man who graduates from Columbia University in New York City, as he tries to navigate his way throughout the world, despite the multiple hurdles that get thrown his way. It contains everything from family drama to romance to brutally honest personal narratives, through which the reader is able to learn much about themselves and the world around them. Throughout the book, Auster plays with the time frame and narration of the story. Although it is primarily narrated in the first person by Marco, Auster often writes in sub-stories which are told to Marco by other characters, and these stories take place at different points in time. As a result, the story is always finding new layers, as it jumps between the past and future. This is a good book for anyone who enjoys books about personal journeys and growth.
Moon Palace is similar to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher and the Rye, also about a young man learning about the world around him. The colloquial language Auster uses and relatively simple general plotline make Moon Palace an easy read. However, do not mistake this for being shallow. The hardships of each of the characters in this novel reveal a lot about the fundamental human condition, and a lot can be learned about oneself through them. On the other hand, if you tend to be bothered by stubborn characters and frustrated by hardship, this is not the book for you. The characters all have their fallbacks, qualities that make them seem unlikeable, especially in the beginning.
The only reason that this novel did not receive five stars was because the plot begins to drag towards the end of the book. A period passes when seemingly nothing is happening, but things start to pick up again after not too long. However, this minor drawback is no reason to avoid the book. The characters are each very different individuals, and they are very much human, sometimes showing parts of the human condition that we would sometimes like to ignore. They experience emotions that are relatable to most people, in some form or another, and through this connection, the story becomes about the reader to a certain extent. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a few hours and a a willingness for adventure.