Here and Now: Letters 2008-2011
by Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee
248 pages / $27.95 buy from Amazon
1. As the title suggests, this book documents the correspondence between Asturias Prize winner Paul Auster and Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee from 2008-2011.
2. According to my calculations there are 79 letters, though some letters include emails explaining a fax machine is broken or low on ink.
3. It is not revealed if either titan of world literature had to dial a 9 before faxing.
4. There is no editor’s note, introduction, epilogue or index. Peculiar for a book of letters. There are footnotes but only sometimes: a biography of Kafka is footnoted while Pierre Clastres’ Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians is not.
5. 11 letters were exchanged in 2008, 30 in 2009, 25 in 2010 and 13 in 2011. The 2008 and 2011 exchanges are high-spirited, covering topics ranging from why men enjoy watching sports to the film director William Wyler.
6. On the 24th letter they perfect their flow: “Thank you for yesterday’s fax. I feel that we have finally hit upon a workable system. A slow letter across the seas from America to Australia and then a quick, electronic transmission of paper from a room in a house in Adelaide to a room in a house in Brooklyn.”
7. I would’ve liked to have been a fly on the whiteboard when Viking Press gave the green light to the title. I could’ve squashed myself.
8. Coetzee is why I wanted to read this book. I thought I’d never read a book by Auster. Halfway through I realized I have read several of his books, years ago, but I still don’t remember reading them. Is not reading a book and not remembering reading a book the same thing? Scrolling for Auster I found James Wood’s mean-spirited article from 2009. Whenever James Wood decides someone is a bad writer they deserve a closer look.
9. “The emboldened critic,” Coetzee says in letter 42, “becomes like the child lobbing pebbles at the gorilla in the zoo, knowing he is protected by the bars.” Auster on James Wood: “I mustn’t complain, least of all about a man whose name suggests that one day he will be eaten by termites.”
10. This book made me miss my grandfathers. READ MORE >
April 11th, 2013 / 12:00 pm
Wow. In these days of all Nicey-Nice, I thought the truly scathing book review went the way of disco or actually meeting someone before you made them your “Friend.” I was wrong. Picked up a New Yorker (OK, it’s a month old, which is like a decade in Internet years, but bear with me) all crumpled/curled on my bedside table in Relaxed Rat position, and inside James Wood takes Paul Auster to the blender.
If you need a primer on evisceration via book review, here you go:
December 21st, 2009 / 5:09 pm
Hey, The Rumpus scored an interview with Paul Auster. Way to go, Juliet Linderman!
Also, for ya’ll NYC’ers, The Rumpus is at the Highline Ballroom tonight for their monthly shindig. This round features Starlee Kine, Rick Moody, Jonathan Ames, Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman, Care Bears on Fire (which the website describes as quote kid-core, which I assume is Spanish for “must be seen to be believed”), and special surprise guests TBA–well not TBA actually, I don’t think they’ll be A’d at all, which is why you want to go, so you can find out who they are.
But let’s just pick one of the people we actually know will be there–and we’ll do it random–and talk about what we think of them. Okay, uh, Todd Barry. Have you ever seen Todd Barry? Todd Barry’s a funny dude. I’ve seen Todd Barry. I laughed at Todd Barry, which is just what Todd Barry wanted. He wants it, I whispered to the girl sitting next to me. And she nodded back, because it was true. There was also another time I saw Todd Barry, but I’m pretty sure that time I was sitting next to a guy. Oh, look, here’s Todd Barry now.
from Rain Taxi:
Our benefit auction has returned, and this year it’s enormous! Held on eBay, the auction lets you support Rain Taxi while getting cool literary stuff. Most items were donated by authors or publishers to help Rain Taxi stay in gear: You’ll find signed first editions, gorgeous broadsides, rare chapbooks, seminal graphic novels, quirky collectible books, handcrafted items, and more! M.T. ANDERSON, John ASHBERY, Paul AUSTER, Charles BERNSTEIN, Robert BLY, Paul BOWLES, Stephen COLBERT, Samuel R. DELANY, Neil GAIMAN, Patricia HAMPL, Richard HELL, Jaime HERNANDEZ, Garrison KEILLOR, Jonathan LETHEM, David MARKSON, Henry MILLER, Rick MOODY, Barack OBAMA, Ron PADGETT, Jerome ROTHENBERG, Joe SACCO, Arthur SZE, Jeff VANDERMEER, Anne WALDMAN, Keith and Rosmarie WALDROP, and Marjorie WELISH are just some of the authors whose works you’ll find. To see the full listings, go to our online benefit auction now!
December 15th, 2008 / 2:32 pm
A WILF is a ‘writer I’d like to fuck,’ our new enterprise conceived by contributor pr. Since I really like the idea of hypothetical fucking, I cannot contain myself and have posted a top 5 list:
1. VIRGINIA WOOLF
That Virginia Woolf was a lesbian may explain the impractical choices in women I still have which sustained my virginity to an embarrassing point which shall not be disclosed at this juncture. That she has been dead for seventy-some years does not implicate any penchant for necrophilia — for I don’t literally want to ‘fuck’ Virginia Woolf at this point in her decomposition — I simply would have wanted to, had I been more of a man in England at the break of the twentieth century; she at the ripe age of eighteen.
2. PAUL AUSTER
That Paul Auster is a man may explain the impractical choices in women which let to the aforementioned exasperated virginity. I’m straight, but fuck that guy is gorgeous. When I think of his New York Trilogy, I think of his dong and ballsack. I went to his reading once and every woman almost had an orgasm when he spoke. I quivered a little myself, though it was probably just gas from my burrito.