In this essay I will narrative order, narrative pace and narrative coherence in relation to Paul Auster’s ‘City of Glass’. I will also explain how narrative coherence helped me in reading and understanding the novel, City of Glass.
Paul Auster’s ‘City of Glass’ is a novel about a writer, Daniel Quinn, who writes mystery stories. Narrative order is described in two ways, form order and content order. The description of Quinn’s life in the first chapter of the story is an example of both content order and form order. Form order is the order in which events in the novel are represented to the reader, while content order is the order in which these events happened. Quinn is a thirty-five year old man who has lost both his wife and only child. He lives his life in the past from the
beginning so he creates a new character named William Wilson to try and forget about his past and his deceased loved ones and wrote his books under this new name. He wrote one book a year and this provided him enough money to live modestly in a small New York apartment. For the rest of the year he would read many novels, view paintings and go to the movies. In summer he watched baseball and in winter he would go to the opera. He also loved to walk and would stroll through the city everyday no matter what the weather. (Auster, The New York Trilogy-City of Glass, 3). The author describes Quinn’s everyday life in the correct order of events starting from the death of his family to what he does all year round since then, including creating the character of William Wilson. He does not jump from the present to the past, he writes it in chronological order.
Narrative pace speeds up or slows down a narrative. If two major events are described side by side in a novel, when in reality they are separated by a big time frame, it will speed up the narration because it passes time by skipping what happened in-between said events. In ‘City of Glass’ there is an example of this type of narrative pace in the very first chapter. It occurs when one night Quinn gets a phone call from a stranger who is looking for a man by the name of Paul Auster from the Detective Agency, and although Quinn tells the voice on the other end of the phone that he is not the man he is looking for, the stranger continues to explain that Auster is wanted urgently and time is running out. Quinn ends the phone call but cannot get the conversation out of his mind, he immediately regretted hanging up while wandering if he had not he may have been able to help in the case. The call makes Quinn think about the detective stories he reads. This makes him think about his own life and how he feels like he is not a real person but instead lived through a person named Max Work. He
falls asleep while thinking about all of this and in a dream which he forgot, he sits in a room on his own and fires a shooting pistol at a bare...