Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Auster's Acceptance

I have spent my life in conversations with people I have never seen, with people I will never know and I hope to continue until the day I stop breathing ... It's the only job I've ever wanted.
American novelist Paul Auster ponders the strangeness of writer's life in his acceptance speech for the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature which is reproduced in the Guardian.
Surely it is an odd way to spend your life - sitting alone in a room with a pen in your hand, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, struggling to put words on pieces of paper in order to give birth to what does not exist - except in your head. Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing? The only answer I have ever been able to come up with is: because you have to, because you have no choice.
Postscript:

I enjoyed Greenbottle's post about why he's glad he doesn't have the writing bug.

Related Post:

Orhan's Medicine (28/10/06)

20 comments:

Greenbottle said...

ai, you work early!
i incidentally made a comment on this too in my latest blog post sunday 5 nov ... but i don't think some of you will like what i say very much...

bibliobibuli said...

i gotta go and look then ...

yes, i woke about 5 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep ... will nap in the afternoon to make up

Chet said...

Umm ... missing your nano-ing?

bibliobibuli said...

no actually ... too much pressing on the mind at the moment. but the social aspect of it is so nice. how is your nanonovel going?

lil ms d said...

you know - i have been told that auster's works are fantastic but i have yet to read one book of his! which one shall i buy first?

Chet said...

lil ms d - Oracle Night is supposed to be the Auster book for people who've never read him. Don't buy - I'll pass my copy to Sharon to pass on to you.

bibliobibuli said...

i've got the 'brooklyn follies' to read for review, i think i was clever there! but like you i haven't read any before.

but then when i read about him this morning i realised that one of my very favourite films 'smoke' is based on one of his novels.

he has a nice face, don't you think, ms d?

bibliobibuli said...

chet - how was "oracle night"?

lil ms d said...

oo chet - i'll buy it. cant borrow books may never return them :D

Chet said...

Oracle Night is a writer's novel. It's about writing, but set as fiction, written in the first person about a writer outlining a novel based on a character from The Maltese Falcon (beginning from where it left off ) and that novel is about a lost manuscript. One of the reviews in amazon.com calls it a story within a story within a story. Plus there are lots of footnotes by the writer to explain things mentioned in passing in the main story.

bibliobibuli said...

sounds fun. thanks for the tip.

Alex Tang said...

ooooh! I love novels about writers and booksellers, aside from war, mayhem and chaos. Have any of you read John Dunning's books? It is about a bookseller who is also a private investigator who get called in to investigate murders connected with rare books.The name of some of his books are The Bookwoman's Last Fling, The Sign of the Book and The Bookman's Wake.

Argus Lou said...

I used to devour Mr Auster's books like there was no next day. Now starting on 'Oracle Night' borrowed from a library (couldn't resist it even though I've at least three dozen books not yet read on my shelves!).

Lil Ms D, the book that broke my heart was 'Leviathan'. 'Vertigo' came pretty close. If you want a mystery with a lot of heart, intellect and characterisation, try 'The New York Trilogy'. 'Music of Chance', 'Timbuktu' and 'Book of Illusion' are probably after you've discovered a taste for Mr Auster's writing.

His wife, Siri Hustvedt (as attractive as he is but in the opposite blonde way), is quite an accomplished novelist too. Her 'What I Loved' is quite absorbing and heartbreaking, too.

Bib, if you do an archive search in The Star for Auster's name and journalist S. Indramalar, you might find a couple of articles on him and his writing. Call her up if you want to discuss his books - surprise her! She's very nice, and clever.

bibliobibuli said...

this blogging lark is getting expensive! i just went to kino to buy "the new york trilogy" and "oracle night"!

alex - haven't heard of john dunning - but thanks for the recommendation. The Bookwoman's Last Fling is a great title.

argus lou - many thanks for the recommendations and the info

Chet said...

Aisay, you didn't wait for the next warehouse sale?

I couldn't find New York Trilogy in MPH One Utama. Apparently, it's published as three individual books that make up the trilogy.

bibliobibuli said...

no i had a desperate need to buy somthing nice and this was it

the penguin edition is us published so you are more likely to find it in kino or borders than in mph. it is one of the prettiest paperbacks i've seen - the art work is beautiful and the feel of the cover and the paper just right. and why buy the 3 books separately when this one vol is RM67.50?

Argus Lou said...

Ah, you're most welcome, Bib.

Perhaps you could start a thread on the 'prettiest books'. I have a book by Amy Hempel called "Dog of the Marriage" which has lovely uneven page edges and the ambiguous picture of a yellow dog's snout and paw mixed up in the blonde hair of a woman (partial back view).

Hempel is one of the writers that Chuck Palahniuk admires. Every sentence she puts down is chockful - of something. No tepid, small-assed sentences for her - but she makes it look so easy. (Those of us who have tried writing fiction all know it's not!)

bibliobibuli said...

good idea argus lou - i love uneven page edges

Leon Wing said...

Sharon, in that case you must love American hardbacks. My older US hardbacks all have this rough-cut uneven edges But now most of the new ones are all smooth and even, like Brit hardbacks.

bibliobibuli said...

don't know leon - can't think i have hardbacks with uncut pages

love the soft suppleness of this paperback too, the way it stays open at a page