Paul Auster’s novel The Brooklyn Follies begins with a remarkably somber sentence: “I was looking for a quiet place to die,” states the narrator, Nathan Glass. Right away, Nathan alerts the reader that living is not foremost on his mind. What Nathan wants is to die peacefully in Brooklyn, not live.
However, it shortly becomes clear that Nathan has retained quite a few emotions. He is not totally opposed to the idea that he might be able to, as the question puts it, “live again.” One significant scene that underscores the fact Nathan is open to living further happens on a Tuesday morning in May. In this scene, Nathan visits a Brooklyn bookstore, Brightman’s Attic, and stumbles across his admired nephew Tom.
Like Nathan, Tom is not thrilled with living at the moment. According to Nathan, everything about Tom “suggested defeat.” However, the surprise meeting not only instills Nathan with more life, but it lifts Tom’s spirits as well.
Nathan’s eyes start to “water up with tears.” The tears prove that Nathan continues to possess feelings and a susceptibility to experience more out of life. Nathan’s newfound buoyancy infects Tom, too. Soon, Nathan spots “the same Tom-smile of old” on his face.
Another significant scene that showcases that Nathan is prepared to live again involves Lucy, the daughter of Tom’s sister. When Lucy suddenly shows up, Nathan, begrudgingly at first, agrees to let her live with him. After a shopping trip, Nathan admits that he “warmed to the prospect of having her around for a while.” Like the earlier bookstore scene, Nathan's first scenes with Lucy are significant because they indicate that he still finds meaning in life and the surprises that it sometimes brings. In other words, he’s capable of living again.