The New York Trilogy
The Locked Room
Logocentric -- A term used by Jacques Derrida to describe the bias of Western
philosophy toward a metaphysics of presence, an order of being, meaning, truth, reference,
reason, or logic conceived as independent of language.
In the first two stories, City of Glass and Ghosts, we see that there is a failed attempt to master
the subject, to find the logocentric father, to define the self.
Both Quinn and Blue experience a
sort of death, they have this regression and they eventually disappear from the text—those who
seek resolution or absolute truth do not come to a good end.
In The Locked Room where he comes back to that subject again, an attempt to master one
subject by becoming the author of one’s self—but he does it in an interesting kind of way.
Where as Daniel Quinn is able to confront Peter Stillman, Sr., and Blue is able to confront Black
physically, the narrator of The Locked Room can never find the body of his childhood friend
Fanshawe who has mysteriously disappeared.
He only had Fanshawe’s unpublished novels and
his plays, and his poems.
The narrator, as Auster and Daniel Quinn in the first book, finds
himself an earlier aspiring serious writer then comes to just writing magazine articles.
Fanshawe disappears and his wife Sophie calls him.
He believes initially that Fanshawe has not
disappeared, but is dead because he decides that no man would just leave Sophie, a beautiful
woman of his own free will.
Sophie asks him to become a literary editor for his childhood
friend’s unpublished work.
Something happens when he gains possession of Fanshawe’s
manuscripts—he begins to usurp the life, or take over the life of Fanshawe.
Fanshawe’s wife, adopts his son and for a moment considers publishing Fanshawe’s book as his
And the more that the narrator immerses himself into the details of Fanshawe’s life; he
starts to become Fanshawe himself.
“Given the strain of reconciling myself to the project, it was probably necessary for me
to equate Fanshawe’s success with my own.
I had stumbled into a cause, a thing that
justified me and made me feel important, and the more fully I disappeared into my
ambitions for Fanshawe, the more sharply I came into focus for myself.
This is not an
excuse; it is merely a description of what happened.
Hindsight tells me that I was
looking for trouble, but at the time I knew nothing about it.
More important, even if I
had known, I doubt that it would have made a difference.” (page 273)
And just when the narrator had successfully published Fanshawe’s novel, one would expect that
this would be the end—that we would have resolution.
But this is not the case—rather than
resolution, the narrator receives a letter from Fanshawe thanking him for publishing his novel.
And of course when the narrator learns that Fanshawe is alive, we then get the pursuit—