The back-cover blurb :
Six months after losing his wife and two young sons, Vermont professor David Zimmer spends his waking hours mired in a blur of alcoholic grief and self-pity. One night, he stumbles upon a clip from a lost film by silent comedian Hector Mann. His interest is piqued, and he soon finds himself embarking on a journey around the world to research a book on this mysterious figure who vanished from sight in 1929. When the book is published the following year, a letter turns up in Zimmer's mailbox, bearing a return address from a small town in New Mexico, inviting him to meet Hector, Zimmer hesitates, until one night a strange woman appears on his doorstep and makes the decision for him, changing his life forever.
This is indeed an engaging book, and believe it or not, this is also my first read of Auster's novel. Though I've heard quite a bit of his early works, especially The New York Trilogy.
Auster paints such a vivid picture of the silent-era movie star and his life that it makes you wonder if this is fiction at all. It simply very believable. A check on the Internet confirmed my curious. No. He didn't exist. Instead, Duke Special, a songwriter and performer based in Belfast, had released an album, The Silent World of Hector Mann (same title as David Zimmer's book), featuring 12 songs inspired by this fictional character.
Some passages I noted down :
At this moment in history, everything withers in a day; whoever lives too long dies alive. As we move through life, we leave behind three or four images of ourselves, each one different from the others; we see them through the fog of the past, like portraits of our different ages.
What matters is not how well you can avoid trouble, but how you cope with trouble when it comes.
When a man has nothing to look forward to, he might as well be dead.
If i had it in me to laugh, then that meant i wasn't entirely numb.