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City of Glass: A Graphic Mystery    by Paul Auster, Paul Karasik & David Mazzucchelli Amazon.com order for
City of Glass
by Paul Auster
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2004 (2004)
Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The terms 'comic book' and 'graphic novel' used to be considered interchangeable. However, comic could not be used in the description of Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli's graphic adaptation of Paul Auster's novel, City of Glass. Auster's novel is a gripping tale of obsessions leading to downfalls. Set in Karasik and Mazzucchelli's austere and disturbing black-and-white visuals, City of Glass makes the ultimate noir-style reading experience.

Daniel Quinn is a poet currently writing detective novels under a penname. When a call comes one night from someone looking for a private eye, Quinn is intrigued and decides to assume a third identity. Soon he is caught up in trying to stop a potential murder. After the suspect gets one step ahead of him, Quinn is determined to catch up. This obsession takes over his life until he has nothing left. Unable to go back to his old pursuits, Quinn eventually disappears.

The tale of Quinn's ultimate downfall is wonderfully illustrated by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli. Taking a cue from film noir, City of Glass is told in black-and-white. Many narrative panels consecutively zoom in or out on a symbolic object. These pictures sometimes take on a grotesque appearance as they morph from one symbol to another, leaving the reader disturbed yet mesmerized. As Quinn's life reaches its final breaking point, the panels do too, falling from their rigid structure into darkness.

Paul Auster's City of Glass adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli is a very deep story accompanied by very deep visuals exemplifying the distinction between 'comic book' and 'graphic novel.' Comic implies something funny, or at least a happy ending. City of Glass has neither though it is simply a novel put in graphic form, there is nothing simple about it.

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