Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Paul who?

Paul Auster. Again.

If you're still wondering who that guy is I blather on so admiringly about every so often, the California Literary Review sums up his life and works to date:

His characters are restless inquisitors, asking endless questions of life, undertaking journeys across the vastness of America, often in solitude, in pursuit of ends which even they themselves are unaware. . . [Auster] subscribes to the belief that it is only through the construction of reality that we are truly able to perceive, rationalise and comprehend the one within which we are forced to spend our lives; he is fascinated by the breaking down of the boundaries between what is lived and what is read; and the blurring of the distinction between what is experienced and what is written.

Auster’s narrative voice is comfortable and sublimely assured, and, given his abstract and existential preoccupations, oddly conversational. He achieves something rare in fiction: the combination of the novel of ideas with a compulsively readable style.

(Here I resist the temptation to add "Just like me.")

The review notes that Auster is immensely popular in continental Europe, whereas many Americans dismiss, disdain, even fear his work for being too intellectual.

Yet for those readers who share Auster’s worldview, his belief in the quixotic fluidity of existence, its chaos, its lack of order, its inherent reliance upon the unpredictable, upon the twists and turns of fate, chance and coincidence — as he says in Oracle Night, 'randomness stalks us every day of our lives' — will find within his work a speculative restless centre, around which an undoubted belief in the tragic beauty of life turns.

(Yes, I know something's wrong with that sentence. I found it that way.)

Too, I'm pleased that someone else calls his books "ghost stories."


Anonymous said...

Just like me. I heard that somewhere.

Never mind.

Actually, I've seen his stuff. I don't know that I would categorize it as too 'intellectual'- I found his work intimidating at first, in that he demanded a higher level of participation and almost cowboy like roping and cattle driving skills.

In the end of course, you get hooked, plain and simple.

We'll be on the couch if you need us.


Müzikdüde said...

He's a hack...

No...not really, I'm not familiar with his stuff. I'll have to check it out.