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4 3 2 1
Cover of 4 3 2 1
4 3 2 1
A Novel

This program is read by the author. Paul Auster's greatest, most heartbreaking and satisfying novel—a sweeping and surprising story of birthright and possibility, of love and of life itself: a masterpiece.

Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Each Ferguson falls under the spell of the magnificent Amy Schneiderman, yet each Amy and each Ferguson have a relationship like no other. Meanwhile, readers will take in each Ferguson's pleasures and ache from each Ferguson's pains, as the mortal plot of each Ferguson's life rushes on. As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, yet with a passion for realism and a great tenderness and fierce attachment to history and to life itself that readers have never seen from Auster before. 4 3 2 1 is a marvelous and unforgettably affecting tour de force.

This program is read by the author. Paul Auster's greatest, most heartbreaking and satisfying novel—a sweeping and surprising story of birthright and possibility, of love and of life itself: a masterpiece.

Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Each Ferguson falls under the spell of the magnificent Amy Schneiderman, yet each Amy and each Ferguson have a relationship like no other. Meanwhile, readers will take in each Ferguson's pleasures and ache from each Ferguson's pains, as the mortal plot of each Ferguson's life rushes on. As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, yet with a passion for realism and a great tenderness and fierce attachment to history and to life itself that readers have never seen from Auster before. 4 3 2 1 is a marvelous and unforgettably affecting tour de force.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 26, 2016
    Almost everything about Auster’s new novel is big. The sentences are long and sinuous; the paragraphs are huge, often running more than a page; and the book comes in at nearly 900 pages. In its telling, however, the book is far from epic, though it is satisfyingly rich in detail. It’s a bildungsroman spanning protagonist Archie Ferguson’s birth in 1947 to a consequential U.S. presidential election in 1974. Some warm opening pages are dedicated to the romance of the parents of Ferguson (as the third-person narrator refers to him throughout), Rose and Stanley. In its depiction of the everyday life of its hero, the book also gives a full history of America during this period through the eyes of Ferguson who, not coincidentally, is roughly the same age as Auster. He roots for the nascent Kennedy administration, sees Martin Luther King’s peaceful resistance, and recognizes both the greatness and the iniquity in L.B.J.’s actions as president. These national events are juxtaposed against Ferguson’s coming-of-age: he goes to summer camp, has a sad first love with a girl named Anne-Marie, and gets an education via his beloved aunt Mildred. One of the many pleasures of the book is Ferguson’s vibrant recounting of his reading experiences, such as Emma Goldman’s Living My Life, Voltaire’s Candide, and Theodore White’s The Making of the President, 1960. Auster adds a significant and immersive entry to a genre that stretches back centuries and includes Augie March and Tristram Shandy.

  • AudioFile Magazine Paul Auster's latest audiobook is a strikingly intimate exploration of childhood, growing up, and paths both taken and not taken. Archibald Isaac Ferguson is born on March 3, 1947, and from there his story splits into four narratives, four parallel but entirely separate lives that Archie lives in mid-century America. Auster's narration of his own work is a double-edged sword. His reading is a bit too underplayed: With few flourishes to his voice, the exhaustive details, dialogues, and inner monologues of Archie's four lives are sometimes difficult to follow. However, Auster's deep understanding of his characters, soothing baritone, and skillful pacing outweigh the flaws and deliver an immensely satisfying experience overall for listeners. A.N. � AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    May 15, 2017

    Auster (The Brooklyn Follies) offers four possible renderings of the life of Archibald Isaac Ferguson, born March 3, 1947, in Newark, NJ. In rotating narratives, Archie tells the listener of his coming of age in New York, New Jersey, and Paris. Characters recur, often taking differing roles in the four narratives: sometimes lovers, sometimes relatives, for example. Archie, too, is a different person in each piece. These complex tales are told with much humor and much insight into the tumult of the 1960s: the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK; the Vietnam War; college life and activism; race riots; the arts; young love and sexuality; and writing and publishing. This long novel is ably read by the author. Those who wish to revisit previous narratives for clarification as the work progresses should also consider hard copy. VERDICT Highly recommended for adult audio collections. Listeners who also came of age in the 1960s may most enjoy this work. ["Auster illuminates how the discrete moments in one's life form the plot points of a sprawling narrative, rife with possibility": LJ 1/17 starred review of the Holt hc.]--Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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A Novel
Paul Auster
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