Time travel heals all woundsSome people, enslaved by old memories, do not live in the present. They mourn over what happened to them, asking themselves, “Why me?”
They have a dual reality: an endless chain of a painful past and the present reality.
Paul Auster’s new novel, “Man in the Dark,” might provide some insight.
Literary critic August Brill, whose wife recently died, lives with his daughter Miriam and granddaughter Katya. He tells himself bedtime stories on sleepless nights and invents a protagonist named Owen Brick.
One day, he wakes up in an alternate world where the United States is in a civil war. He must kill Brill on a mission, who has caused the civil war by imagining it.
The longer the two men’s war goes on, the better the readers know that Brick and Brill are one and the same. Brill’s daughter Miriam was deserted by her husband and his granddaughter lost her boyfriend to a ghastly death in Iraq: His death was filmed and disseminated across the United States.
As a result, Katya is addicted to other movies, telling Brill that she needs other images to erase the horrible image of her boyfriend’s murder. However, through talking, listening and reconciliation, Brill, Miriam, and Katya cure their painful memories of the past.
The best scene is when grandfather and granddaughter lie down side by side on a bed and slowly talk with each other. By the time he finishes telling Katya about the woman he loved, his betrayal of wife Sonia and his sins to be forgiven, his granddaughter also releases herself from the memories of her boyfriend’s death.
It seems the author suggests through the characters that all of our pain and happiness stems from our own minds. Thus, Auster seems to say, overcome it and claim your happiness.