A grief-stricken man's obsession with the mysterious life of a silent film star takes him on a strange and intense journey into a shadow-world of lies, illusions and unexpected love...
Six months after losing his wife and two young sons in a plane crash, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. Then, watching television one night, he stumbles upon a lost film by Hector Mann, and finds himself enraptured. Mann was a comic genius of the silent cinema, his trademark a fluttering black moustache. One January morning in 1929, at the height of his fame, he walked out of his house and was never heard from again.
Zimmer's fascination with Mann's work leads him to write an appreciative book. Then out of nowhere comes a letter from New Mexico, supposedly written by Mann's wife ("Hector has read your book and would like to meet you."). Could Hector Mann still be alive? Zimmer is torn between doubt and belief, until a strange woman appears on his doorstep one night and makes the decision for him, changing his life for ever.
Written with breathtaking urgency and precision, this stunning novel plunges the reader into a universe in which the comic and the tragic, the real and the imagined, the violent and the tender, dissolve into one another. The Book of Illusions is Paul Auster's richest, most emotionally charged novel yet.