What is a summary of Paul Auster's Smoke and Blue in the Face?

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juneamy007 | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Smoke is a tapestry of life woven in, of all places, a tobacco shop.  It is a small shop located in Brooklyn.  Auggie Wren manages the establishment, and it bears his name.  However, it is owned by Vinnie.

In this tale, we meet Paul Benjamin.  He is a regular customer, who writes stories for a living.  We learn that in a years-earlier twist of fate, his young bride was killed. She was pregnant with what was to be their first child.

We are also introduced to Auggie’s former lover, Ruby McNutt.  Ruby’s role is to present her older teenage daughter, Felicity.  She does this by telling Auggie that he is Felicity’s father.

Rashid Cole, another young person who has grown up without a father, is a central character.  His father is a man named Cyrus Cole, whom life has punished for his erroneous ways. Rashid is a roommate to Paul, an employee of Cyrus, and an employee to Auggie.  He is also in hiding from two thugs, Charlie Clemm and Roger Goodwin.

Through Auggie’s hobby of photography, and Paul’s livelihood of writing, we are witness to the intricate twists and turns that result in this phenomenon called life.  

Blue in the Face is a continuation of the lives and times of Auggie's friends and family.

We are privileged to meet Vinnie's wife, Dot.  This time around, Vinnie has decided to close down the tobacco shop.

His desire to rent the establishment to a vegetarian restaurant brings in an even more diverse cast of characters.

There are visits from many of Auggie's loyal customers, as they come to smoke their last cigars with their favorite proprietor.

There are also introductions of some of Brooklyn's finest citizens as stories of love, life, and eccentricities create another patchwork of humanity. 

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