The Music of Chance by Paul Auster
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Warning: If you are the sort of reader who likes your novel’s endings to be wrapped up nice and neat with a bow, then Music of Chance may not be the book for you. Music of Chance leaves an abundance of questions unanswered.
The central character in Music of Chance is Jim Nashe a former fireman in his early thirties. His wife has left him, his young daughter is living with his sister in the Midwest, and Jim blows through a small inheritance by driving all over America in a Saab. His money is almost gone and he is confused about what to do next when he meets a 19 year old kid, Jack. Jim decides to back the kid in an epic poker game that Jack assures him is a sure thing against 2 older eccentric rich guys who are not very good poker players. Jim sees this as an opportunity to get more money to further fund his roadtrip.
For 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 as happening to him, he was past the point of wanting it to end. Three days into the thirteenth, 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.
I really enjoyed reading Music of Chance and don’t want to give away too much of the plot. Music of Chance touches on several themes such as fate, choices, and freedom. How much of Nashe’s fate is due to the choices that he’s made and how much of it is due to chance? Does he have to be resigned to his fate or can he do something to change it? The book made me ask these questions about my own life (see what I mean about questions??).
I’ve read several other books by Auster: The Book of Illusions, Oracle Night, and Timbuktu. Auster’s writing is captivating and intriguing. All of Auster’s books that I’ve read have a thread of the bizarre running through them that I thoroughly enjoy. I found all of the books to be page turners and I just wanted to know what strange thing was going to happen next. Basically, Austers books are successful at transporting you to an off kilter sort of world that makes you question your own world.
Music of Chance is one of the books included in the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It counts towards the 1001 Books Challenge (1% Well Read Challenge) that I am participating in. After this book I only have one book to go to meet my challenge goal. WooHoo! Go me!
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