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Paul Auster, Why Write?

I chanced upon this in the library catalogue of my department at uni and thought ‘nice, something by Paul to read on the train’.

Collected non-fiction pieces from NY papers & magazines. Some of it looked familiar and must have passed through my hands earlier in some other form; but since there are admittedly only 2500 copies of it around, I’m going to make a list of what you’re missing.

Answer to a Question from New York Magazine (1995)
The question being, presumably, “What first comes to your mind when New York is mentioned to you?”
This is only a paragraph, but quite funny. An episode from Auster’s childhood.

Why Write? (1995)
Five episodes back & forth from Auster’s life.
The answer being, presumably, that otherwise these episodes would go untold. And you wouldn’t want to miss them.

“It reminds me of something that once happened to my mother…” (1983)
A recollection of Auster’s meeting with Charles Reznikoff in 1974. As is always the case with Paul, the episode is filled with coincidences (his wedding day, an article he had written about Reznikoff, his first book of poetry…)
Quite touching.

Twenty-Five Sentences Containing the Words Charles Bernstein (1990)
This is the funniest introductory whatever I’ve ever read–or heard, for that matter. Auster manages to be obnoxiusly funny, complimentary and profound all at once.

Wood Box
“Sculpture by Jon Kessler”. I have no idea why it ended up here, or what has Paul to do with it. I can guess, though.

A Prayer for Salman Rushdie (1993)
Or, I Could Be In His Place with a Fatwa On My Head.
Heartfelt and moving.

Appeal to the Governor of Pennsylvania (1995)
… To save Mumia Abu-Jamal’s life. Paul is more socially involved than one would think.

This shouldn’t even be termed a book, it’s that brief. But all the pieces are very good & my vote is given in proportion to the length. And none of you is going to ever read it, anyway.

Paul Auster
Why Write?
pp. 58
Small Press Distribution, 1996

Giudizio: 4/5.

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