"Several months into his recovery from a near-fatal illness, thirty-four-year-old novelist Sidney Orr enters a stationery shop in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn and buys a blue notebook. It is September 18, 1982, and for the next nine days Orr will live under the spell of this blank book, trapped inside a world of eerie premonitions and bewildering events that threaten to destroy his marriage and undermine his faith in reality." "Why does his wife suddenly break down in tears in the backseat of a taxi just hours after Sidney begins writing in the notebook? Why does M. R. Chang, the owner of the stationery shop, precipitously shut down his business the next day? What are the connections between a 1938 Warsaw telephone directory and a lost novel in which the hero can predict the future? At what point does animosity explode into violence? To what degree is forgiveness the ultimate expression of love?"--BOOK JACKET.
The original story about Sidney is also quite compelling, but I was disappointed in how it ended. The book as a whole seemed to be saying something profound about life in general using writing as a metaphor for life. Life is random. Life altering things happen when you least expect them, you can't control them and they don't mean anything, they just happen. And they don't tie up neatly like a Hollywood Movie, or even most novels. So it doesn't tie up neatly either, and it was unsettling, and ultimately unsatisfying too. I don't want to read a long rambling book about randomness and lack of cohesion in the world, even if it's very well written. So while it definitely has some brilliant moments and good prose, I didn't love it.
I found this book hard to read with a second story being told in the footnotes. Never the less the book was engaging until the end when it seemed the author just decided it was time to finish it and did so hastily. There was opportunity to tie the two story lines together which I believe would have been much more interesting.
As I believe I've mentioned in past reviews, my reading is cyclical. The book I'm reading during the slow down period always seems to be short shrifted to some extent. Such was the way of Oracle Night. I enjoyed the book but found that reading it in 5 - 10 page increments each day didn't help me engage with it or the characters as much as I'd have liked. Keep that in mind as you read my review.
All that said, I'd recommend you pick it up, read it, and give it the attention it deserves. It is a good book.
**SPOILER ALERT (Highlight)**
The story is about Sidney Orr an author who is in recovery from a recent battle with a near-fatal illness. Sidney is trying to get back into the swing of writing (and life in general) as strange things begin to happen along the way. His wife begins to say strange things like "just love me and everything will be OK" along with exhibitions of unusual behavior. He buys a Portuguese notebook to begin writing and becomes obsessive about the notebook itself and it's powers to draw out the story. One of his (and his wife's) best friends has a son who goes into rehab and Sidney is the one tasked with reaching out to him. The store owner who sold Sidney the notebook turns out to be a shady character who is interested in opening a bordello (which Sidney visits reluctantly). And so on...
As with Travels, Auster has the story within a story which I found didn't work as well in this case. The sub-story was interesting but I found it to be more of a distraction. Since the story in Travels played into the main character's life, I kept expecting he sub-story ("Oracle Night") to be intertwined with Sidney's life. While there were loose connections, it was not to the extent it was in Travels. Maybe that comparison's unfair.
Find the book and read it. You'll likely enjoy it.
the part about his mysterious blue notebook,and how it give Sidney Auster's protagonist,some kind of power over his writing.... and it's effective impact in changing the direction of the story from time to time, was the only interesting thing .....
"Those notebooks are very friendly, but they can also be cruel, and you have to watch out you don't get lost in them," warns Trause.