I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn, and so the next morning I traveled down there from Westchester to scope out the terrain. I hadn't been back in fifty-six years, and I remembered nothing. My parents had moved out of the city when I was three, but I instinctively found myself returning to the neighborhood where we had lived, crawling home like some wounded dog to the place of my birth. A local real estate agent ushered me around to six or seven brownstone flats, and by the end of the afternoon I had rented a two-bedroom garden apartment on First Street, just half a block away from Prospect Park. I had no idea who my neighbors were, and I didn't care. They all worked at nine-to-five jobs, none of them had any children, and therefore the building would be relatively silent. More than anything else, that was what I craved. A silent end to my sad and ridiculous life.
The house in Bronxville was already under contract, and once the closing took place at the end of the month, money wasn't going to be a problem. My ex-wife and I were planning to split the proceeds from the sale, and with four hundred thousand dollars in the bank, there would be more than enough to sustain me until I stopped breathing.
At first, I didn't know what to do with myself. I had spent thirty-one years commuting back and forth between the suburbs and the Manhattan offices of Mid-Atlantic Accident and Life, but now that I didn't have a job anymore, there were too many hours in the day. About a week after I moved into the apartment, my married daughter, Rachel, drove in from New Jersey to pay me a visit. She said that I needed to get involved in something, to invent a project for myself. (…)
1) Onomastics : names of characters in a work of fiction are often significant. Why do you think Paul Auster named his protagonist Nathan Glass?
3) Look at the first and last sentences of this passage. What do they tell you about the narrator?
2) In what way does this text illustrate the title of the novel (The Brooklyn Follies)?
A borough of New York
A place in Brooklyn
A suburb of New York
a) Nathan spent the first three years of his life in Brooklyn.
b) Nathan rented the first available flat he found.
c) The flat he got was very close to Prospect Park.
d) Nathan was craving for the noise of the city.
3) The first paragraph introduces the reader to the protagonist but also to Brooklyn. What elements suggest that the blocks around Prospect Park constitute a highly gentrified neighborhood. Use the internet to learn more about Brooklyn and gentrification. In what way is Nathan’s moving to Brooklyn an illustration of the process of gentrification?
1) “The house in Bronxville” refers to:
- Nathan’s new place in Brooklyn
- Nathan’s fomer house in Westchester
- A house in the Bronx
2) Explain in your own words why Nathan will soon have 400 000 dollars in the bank.
3) To commute means:
- to live and work in the city
- to live and work in the suburbs
- to live in the suburbs and work in the city
4) Nathan lives close to Prospect Park and needs « to invent a project for (him)self ». Look up the ethymology of the words prospect and project. What does it tell you about Nathan?