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The Dollar Tree

Tobias Jones, 11 December 1997

Hand To Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 436 pp., £15.99, November 1997, 0 571 17149 4
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... Paul Auster is so implicated in his own fictions that it is often hard to tell whether his covert appearances there represent a Modernist textual teasing or a baser vanity; whether his walk-on parts are self-mocking or aggrandising. In City of Glass, the first volume in the New York Trilogy, the writer’s identity is always a plaything: Quinn, the writer, uses the pseudonym William Wilson, who himself writes about the improbably named Max Work, and is mistaken for Paul Auster, ‘of the Auster Detective Agency ...

It’s just a book

Philip Horne, 17 December 1992

Leviathan 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 245 pp., £14.99, October 1992, 0 571 16786 1
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... Paul Auster is an amphibious writer whose eclectic methods and influences make one unsure by which end to try and grasp him. His early self-exile to an apprenticeship in Paris as a poet and translator, absorbing the lessons of the ‘high’ aesthetic rigorists – Beckett, Blanchot, Jabès, Celan – was an unexpected preliminary to his return to America and, after several years, his dark, formally self-conscious entry onto the scene of the American novel with The New York Trilogy, an elaborate anti-detective volume full of Hawthorne, Melville and Thoreau ...

Who are you?

Theo Tait: Paul Auster, 18 March 2004

Oracle Night 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 243 pp., £15.99, February 2004, 0 571 21698 6
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... For a long time, Paul Auster’s novels were much more popular in France than in America. Perhaps this is because he sounds more convincing in French. ‘Ecrivain de la mégapole, de l’errance et du hasard, Paul Auster est devenu un auteur culte,’ one Parisian blurb-artist writes, catching the appeal in a way that his English-speaking counterparts find difficult ...

Tall Storeys

Patrick Parrinder, 10 December 1987

Life: A User’s Manual 
by Georges Perec, translated by David Bellos.
Collins Harvill, 581 pp., £15, October 1987, 0 00 271463 9
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The New York Trilogy: City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 314 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 571 14925 1
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... goods which surround them. They have none of the insecurity and anonymity of the figures who haunt Paul Auster’s vision of the modern city. Though The New York Trilogy outlines a comparable cityscape of streets and apartment blocks, its characters do not even have names, only aliases. Crime and detection are paramount themes in both ...

Believe it or not

Rebecca Mead: America’s National Story Project, 7 February 2002

True Tales of American Life 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 416 pp., £16.99, November 2001, 0 571 21050 3
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... A couple of years ago, Paul Auster was asked by a producer at National Public Radio whether he would become a regular contributor to one of the network’s more popular shows. All he’d have to do was come up with a story every month or so and read it aloud. Daunted by the prospect – what writer has plotlines to spare? – Auster was about to decline, when his wife, Siri Hustvedt, who is also a novelist, came up with a suggestion ...

Making faces

Philip Horne, 9 May 1991

The Grimace 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Grafton, 256 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 246 13770 3
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Playing the game 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 234 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 224 02758 1
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The Music of Chance 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 217 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 9780571161577
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... bother to try to compute the odds against this happening, and left it as a sharp earful of what Paul Auster calls ‘the music of chance’.Salaman, Buruma and Auster are all connoisseurs of the incongruous connection, all adept stringers-along of the reader into tantalisingly incomplete networks of ...

Tables and Chairs

Christopher Tayler: J.M. Coetzee, 21 March 2013

J.M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing 
by J.C. Kannemeyer, translated by Michiel Heyns.
Jonathan Ball, 710 pp., R 325, October 2012, 978 1 86842 495 5
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Here and Now: Letters 2008-11 
by Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee.
Viking, 256 pp., $27.95, March 2013, 978 0 670 02666 1
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The Childhood of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 210 pp., £16.99, March 2013, 978 1 84655 769 9
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... too. The same can’t be said of Here and Now, a collection of communications between Coetzee and Paul Auster sent between July 2008 – a month after Kannemeyer’s approach – and August 2011. This extraordinary book comes with no explanations other than the flap copy: Although Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee had ...

Cityscapes

Stephen Wall, 1 September 1988

Quinn’s Book 
by William Kennedy.
Cape, 289 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 224 02580 5
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In the Country of Last Things 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 188 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 0 571 14965 0
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... but which remain obtrusive. One is left wishing for more matter with less art. The city of Paul Auster’s In the Country of Last Things is not located in either time or space, and this freedom from historical contingency enables him to construct a lean dystopian fable of unusual cogency and power. The novel’s epigraph – from Hawthorne this ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... from 4 per cent to 95.6 per cent, the bulk of The Iron Whim concerns itself with the likes of Paul Auster, Bram Stoker, William Burroughs, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard and Hunter S. Thompson: in other words, men. He says more than once that he’s less interested in typewriters as machines ...

Gloriously Fucked

J. Robert Lennon: Paul Auster’s ‘4321’, 2 February 2017

4321 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 866 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 0 571 32462 0
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... Paul Auster​ ’s new novel, 4321, is a lightly edited two-inch-thick Bildungsroman divided into four timelines, each a possible iteration of a single character’s life. That character is born at the end of a prologue consisting mostly of family prehistory: Russian Jews emigrate to New York and bear a child, Stanley; Stanley marries comely Rose, and they beget our protagonist, Archie Ferguson ...

Austward Ho

Patrick Parrinder, 18 May 1989

Moon Palace 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 307 pp., £11.99, April 1989, 0 571 15404 2
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Prisoner’s Dilemma 
by Richard Powers.
Weidenfeld, 348 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 297 79482 5
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A Prayer for Owen Meany 
by John Irving.
Bloomsbury, 543 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7475 0334 6
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... and themes which will make enough noise to fill up the silence of the great open spaces. Paul Auster’s Moon Palace is a ‘Western’ novel executed with consummate skill and an unerring feeling for the volume control. His epigraph, from Jules Verne – ‘Nothing can astound an American’ – prepares us for the layers of romantic irony ...

Among the Writers

Joanna Biggs: In Beijing, 10 May 2012

... asparagus in soy but purple and orange pastries for pudding) I sat with Yu Shi, who has translated Paul Auster as well as writing novels about young women in the city. She was 12 in 1989, and saw herself as part of a distinct generation with different concerns from those that came before. She wanted to know about censorship in the UK: ‘Don’t you have ...

A Generous Quantity of Fat

Paul Henley: Yes, People Were Cooked, 2 September 1999

Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American South-West 
by Christy Turner and Jacqueline Turner.
Utah, 512 pp., $60, January 1999, 9780874805666
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Cannibalism and the Colonial World 
edited by Francis Barker and Peter Hulme.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £13.95, August 1998, 0 521 62118 6
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Cannibals: The Discovery and Representation of the Cannibal from Columbus to Jules Verne 
by Frank Lestringant, translated by Rosemary Morris.
Polity, 256 pp., £39.50, April 1997, 0 7456 1697 6
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Chronicles of the Guayakí Indians 
by Pierre Clastres, translated by Paul Auster.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 571 19398 6
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... the manuscript of the translation was lost. It was miraculously rediscovered by the translator, Paul Auster, twenty years later. This delay has resulted in some anachronisms, notably in certain turns of phrase and the evocation of obsolete anthropological theories (e.g. the Atchei are described as a ‘primitive Stone Age tribe’), but they do not ...

Among the Antimacassars

Alison Light, 11 November 1999

Flush 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Elizabeth Steele.
Blackwell, 123 pp., £50, December 1998, 0 631 17729 9
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Timbuktu 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 186 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19197 5
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... meant to dismantle or diffuse. That thought might go some way towards a charitable reading of Paul Auster’s Timbuktu, ‘a love-story’ between a dog and his master. Mr Bones is an all-American mongrel, ‘a hodge-podge of genetic strains’ (Auster compares him to other US immigrants), who’s also a model of ...

The Atom School

Theo Tait: J.M. Coetzee, 3 November 2016

The Schooldays of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 260 pp., £17.99, August 2016, 978 1 911215 35 6
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... repudiates ‘the monster of reason, mechanical reason’. In his recent exchange of letters with Paul Auster, Coetzee blamed ‘the quantificatory spirit’ for the financial crash of 2008, and suggested that if we are all suddenly poorer because ‘certain numbers changed’, perhaps we should change the numbers back so that they more accurately ...

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