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The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
The Book of Illusions begins with college professor David Zimmer's life torn apart by the death of his wife and children in an airplane crash. He decides he needs an obsession to distract himself from his drinking and despair, so he researches and writes the definitive book about the life of silent-film actor Hector Mann, who disappeared after his last movie. Soon after, he receives a letter from a woman claiming to be Hector Mann's wife asking if he'd like to meet the subject of his book. So sets off the search for a different life and the meaning of our life's works and whether we're defined by what we produce or the other way around. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says, "it's part of Auster's signature achievement, and an indication of his breadth as a novelist, that he so deftly leads readers through a tale that blends melodrama, farce, romance and tragedy."