am 8. Oktober 1998
Throughout most of Paul Auster's "Leviathan", I felt I was in the firm grip of a skilled and refined writer. The prose is controlled and sharp; the narrator unwinds the story at the same time he questions his knowledge and, interestingly, undermines the validity of his own point of view. At its best--which is to say, during the majority of the novel--this is a fine, tightly controlled work about the mysteries of friendship.
However, the book also attempts to address the more dramatic question that purportedly drives the narrative--how did Benjamin Sachs ultimately come to blow himself up on the side of the road?
It is here, unfortunately, that the story unravels. Auster never creates a convincing picture of the events that lead Sachs to his fate. We are expected to believe that a life can be completely turned upside down by certain unexpected events, and undoubtedly that may be true. But the journey of Sachs from writer, friend and husband to itinerant bomber simply does not hold together. The character change is far too great, and the explanation for it entirely too implausible. In fact, what Sachs becomes is something of a laughable and even insufferable creation, one that Auster apparently intended for us to take seriously but that seems trivial in light of recent events.
Perhaps Auster cannot be faulted for the fact that truth is often more intriguing than fiction, and that Sachs the bomb thrower ends up being far less gripping than real-life figures who represent evil at its most pure. But it is Auster alone who not only makes Sachs the bomb thrower so less interesting than Sachs the author, but also takes an otherwise tight story with finely drawn characters--a story that holds so much promise--and shakes it around until nothing makes sense and the original beauty is distorted beyond repair.
I'm happy to have read this book and will treasure certain passages, but it now sits on my shelf as a disappointing reminder of what might have been.
am 19. Mai 2008
Die Freiheit des Einzelnen und die Gefahren, welche die Suche nach ihr mitziehen kann, ist immer wieder Thema in Paul Auster's Büchern. Der steinige Weg der Selbstfindung und das zufällige Aufeinandertreffen von außergewöhnlichen Menschen, deren Schicksale miteinander verwoben sind, ein anderes.
'Leviathan' hat mich von der ersten Seite weg in den Bann gezogen. Die leichte, flüssige Erzählweise, deren Meister Paul Auster ist, fasziniert mich immer wieder.
Für mich, das beste Buch von diesem beeindruckenden Schriftsteller.
"Leviathan" erscheint zunächst nur wie ein typischer Auster. Der Erzähler, hier heißt er Peter Aaron, ist Schriftsteller und fungiert als Alter Ego von Auster (wie auch schon in "The New York Trilogy", "Book of Illusions" und "Oracle Night"). Der Protagonist, Benjamin Sachs, ist ebenfalls Schriftsteller, der, soviel weiß man nach den ersten Sätzen, das Ende des Romans nicht erleben wird. Was folgt, ist das Leben und Sterben des Benjamin Sachs aus der Sicht von Peter Aaron.
Das hätte durchaus langweilig und öde werden können (viele Auster-Fans denken da an den "Book of Illusions"-Flop). Doch "Leviathan", Austers 1992 erschienender vierter Roman, hat das Zeug, seinen genialen Erstlings- und Meisterwerk "The New York Trilogy" das Wasser zu reichen.
Zum Plot soll hier nicht viel verraten werden. Es geht, wie gesagt, um das Leben von Benjamin Sachs. Dieses beinhaltet jedoch so viel Abstruses und Abgefahrenes, Bewegendes und Tragisches und nicht zuletzt auch Witz und Ironie, dass der Leser gebannt den Verlauf der Ereignisse verfolgt.
Fazit: Auster at his best! Spannung und Sprachniveau bewegen sich am oberen Limit. Schlaflose Nächte sind garantiert.
am 4. Januar 2002
The protagonist Benjamin Sachs, ex-con war resister turned brilliant novelist, is one of Auster's most creative characters. At times the
relationship between Sachs and the book's narrator Peter Aaron reminded me of Kerouac's Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise. I often find it annoying when novelists choose writers as their protagonists, but Auster pulls it off.
In his novels, Auster manages to follow a pattern without becoming formulistic. As is often the case in his other work, Leviathan features
wild coincidences, cat-and-mouse detective chases and oddball characters who struggle to understand the motives for their own actions.
The main flaw in this novel, in my opinion, is the development of Reed Dimaggio. Although he only appears in one scene, he is an
important character that hovers like a ghost over the final third of the novel. Auster sketches the outline of a fascinating character, but
never gives us enough information to fill in between the lines, and we're never able to understand why he reacts the way that he does in
that one fatal scene. Dimaggio is a vital link in the bizarre chain of events that brings the novel to its conclusion, but in that we're never
able to make sense of his behavior the rest of the pieces don't quite fall into place.
That said, I found Leviathan to be a entertaining and remarkably intelligent novel which I read in 100 page gulps. Auster does not have
many equals in current American fiction. Leviathan is clever novel with big themes, in which everyone is a little bit crazy, we're all a
random mishap away from true madness, and isolated though we may be in this world we find that we're all connected in ways that we
least expect. Highly recommended.
am 12. Januar 2013
Paul Auster ist ein Meister seines Faches. Er versteht es, einen packenden Plot mit einem flüssigen Stil zu vermitteln, der einen die Seiten nicht spüren lässt. Das Englisch, das er dabei verwendet, finde ich sowohl bei "Mr. Vertigo" (das ich nebenbei erwähnt berührender fand) als auch bei "Leviathan". Zuerst dachte ich, die Geschichte hätte mit dem biblischen Seemonster oder dem Staatsverständnis des guten alten Hobbes (1588–1679) zu tun. Und wer versteht, zwischen den Zeilen zu lesen und sich in der Philosophiegeschichte beheimatet fühlt, wird auch Zusammenhänge erkennen, die anderen verborgen bleiben könnten.
Im Buch wird der Werdegang von Benjamin Sachs aus der Sicht seines vertrauten Freundes (der ebenfalls Schriftsteller ist), geschildert, so wie sich dieser daran erinnert - mit dem wiederholten Verweis, dass seine Version der Geschichte keinen Anspruch erhebt, vollständig oder wahr zu sein. Er schreibt einfach auf, was ihm auf der Seele brennt und beschreibt aus seiner subjektiven Sicht den Gang der Ereignisse, wie er sie erlebt hat bzw. was er von anderen erfahren hat. Ich finde es faszinierend, wie es Auster schafft, die Lebensfäden der Protagonisten miteinander zu verstricken, sodass die Charaktere lebendig werden. Mehr noch, mir schien es oft, dass hier eine wahre Begebenheit nacherzählt wird. Denn oft werden (ähnlich wie in Austers "Buch der Illusionen") die Themengebiete, mit denen sich die Hauptperson (Ich-Erzähler) beschäftigt, so phantasievoll und detailreich dargestellt, dass der Eindruck entsteht, das sei zu plausibel oder hat zumindest deutliche Anleihen an der Realität, um erfunden zu sein.
am 13. April 1999
I read Paul Auster's Leviathan at school and I very much liked the novel. It's full of interesting characters and contains a remarkable net of relationships. Paul Auster deals with quite a number of aspects of every day's life in the modern age. I also liked the construction of the novel although some coincidences especially towards the end are less likely to happen. Dealing with the novel in class we focused on the aspect of identity presented in the novel. Every chapter is full of references to this very actual topid. Besides it was interesting to observe the changes in character of the two protagonists, Peter Aaron who is also the novelist, and Benjamin Sachs. Peter Aaron's life is rather typical of our days whereas Sachs's life often contains more preposterous aspects. In the end I was a little bit disappointed when I had finished the book and some secrets were left unsolved. But after reflecting the novel I recognized that maybe here lies the intention of the novel. The reader should realize that the novel is not of political or thrilling character but of psycological quality. It may intend to force the reader to think about himself and his environment. All in all Leviathen is interesting and valuable reading material and the reader who is not satisfied with more superficial entertainment has several aspects to think about. I would highly recommend the novel.
am 10. Juli 1999
Leviathan has excellent prose and narrative pacing. It is the sort of book you can read in one or two sittings. I would jump from thinking the book was completely ridiculous to sheer absorption. The male characters took themselves too seriously, but sometimes that provided a nice comic effect. I understand that Peter Aaron is roughly based on Paul Auster (P.A., and he ends up marrying Iris, who is the protagonist of "The Blindfold", based on and by his wife Siri Hustvedt), but I was wondering Sachs was based on Delillo, who the book is dedicated too. Delillo's first book is Americana, is that anything like The New Collosus? Sachs' initials also spell BS, who knows if that means anything. What is fun about Leviathan is the great plot twists, and the way the philosophical abstractions add to the suspense. Usually, for me, philosophical digressions weigh down the narrative. Reaing it a second time is fun because Auster foreshadows a lot with symbolism (Aaron's double vision at the bar for example). The female characters are generally weak, except for Maria Turner - who is probably the best character in the book. The male characters are a little charming, but they don't have the self-irony they think they do. They're clever, but not the center of the universe.
am 16. Oktober 1998
What is the point of this novel? When I got to the end, I halfway expected something really extraordinary to happen--we find that the narrator really IS Sachs or something like this. Instead, the book simply stops. I agree with the readers who say they found Sachs' transformation implausible. But I'm also wondering why Auster thought it important to lead his readers through all of this mess. What sort of vision is he trying to present here? Also the book is badly written. Auster doesn't depict scenes so much as he describes--in utilitarian fashion--scenes from a novel. Throughout, I felt as if I was reading the description of novel rather than a real, living breathing book. The budding romance between Sachs and Lilian that leads to the inevitable bedding was especially predictable and boring to read. In addition to the portrait of Sachs, I found the other characterizations flat. No one seemed real to me. My favorite parts of the book were the descriptions of Marie, and her quirky hobbies. But this seemed to be from a different novel, and didn't really even need to be in the book in the first place. What is the big deal about Paul Auster? I'm not getting it.
am 3. April 1999
The story of "Leviathan" is about the fate of two novelists - one is the narrator, Peter Aaron, and the other one is his best ally Benjamin Sachs. It starts with a newspaper article about a man who blew himself up on a road in Northern Wisconsin which arouses the suspicion in Peter Aaron that this man was his friend Benjamin. After the two FBI-men, who investigate on the case, came to Aaron (led by a telephone number found in the coat of the dead body), the narrator tells us about all the ups and downs of the life of Sachs in a very detailed way. He comments on the events and draws his conclusions - very well understandable and with aspects you would not directly think of. The way he tells it reveals also interesting traits of himself. The story is constructed very systematically, in chronological order and "everything is connected to everything". The book is full of action and tension although you know the end right from the start. There is no event you may predict and there are many surprising and somehow ironical chances.
am 1. Dezember 1997
I first came across Mr Auster's books while working in Japan. I read everything in the English section of the local bookstore, and his "New York Trilogy" was one of the books I devoured. The "New York Trilogy" stuck in my mind because of the relentless grayness and over-control of the lives described therein. Everything was *so* carefully considered, including the assorted manias of the various dysfunctional characters. "Leviathan" continues this grayness and over-control, to the tune of "Sympathy for the Unabomber." It plots the self-destructive trajectory of a writer accidentally turned protest-bomber and reads like a "Seinfeld" episode produced by a really depressed team. The strange thing about Auster's books is that, like a really bad traffic accident, they draw me as they repulse me, so that when I get about 90% of the way through one of them, I'm saying to myself "For God's sake, put this thing down." Then I finish. Mr. Auster's probably a great writer. He just depresses me.