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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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... PaulAuster 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 ...
17 December 1992
Leviathan 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 245 pp., £14.99, October 1992, 0 571 16786 1
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... PaulAuster 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 ...

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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... Manual are Dickensian caricatures, whose identities seem as fixed as the furniture and household goods which surround them. They have none of the insecurity and anonymity of the figures who haunt PaulAuster’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 ...

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, PaulAuster’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, PaulAuster est ...

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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... was at the same moment playing quietly on my stereo, which it does perhaps once a year. I didn’t bother to try to compute the odds against this happening, and left it as a sharp earful of what PaulAuster 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 ...

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, PaulAuster 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 ...

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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... comes across as ‘nothing much to see here’, and that’s mostly the case with the biography too. The same can’t be said of Here and Now, a collection of communications between Coetzee and PaulAuster 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 PaulAuster and J.M ...

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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... In Quinn’s Book, their place is too often supplied by idioms and effects which may be accomplished but which remain obtrusive. One is left wishing for more matter with less art. The city of PaulAuster’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 ...

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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... PaulAuster​ ’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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man

10 May 2007
... priestesses’, and notes that between 1870 and 1930, the female proportion of typists in America soared from 4 per cent to 95.6 per cent, the bulk of The Iron Whim concerns itself with the likes of PaulAuster, 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 ...

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 raucousness. The myth of the Great American Novel is born of the urge to invent metaphors, characters and themes which will make enough noise to fill up the silence of the great open spaces. PaulAuster’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 ...

Among the Writers

Joanna Biggs: In Beijing

10 May 2012
... the writers (river fish, scrambled egg whites with crab and ginger, cubes of tofu, mushroom soup and asparagus in soy but purple and orange pastries for pudding) I sat with Yu Shi, who has translated PaulAuster 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 ...
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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... its saving graces, is the desire to retrieve those modes of sociability and relatedness which Modernism meant to dismantle or diffuse. That thought might go some way towards a charitable reading of PaulAuster’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 ...

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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... was due to be published, Clastres was killed in a car crash, the publishing house went bankrupt and the manuscript of the translation was lost. It was miraculously rediscovered by the translator, PaulAuster, 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 ...

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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... enjoins us to use our imaginative sympathy to think (or be) like a bat; or when her sister the nun repudiates ‘the monster of reason, mechanical reason’. In his recent exchange of letters with PaulAuster, 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 ...

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