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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The "Argument/Case" Against Paul Auster

Paul Auster's new book "Man in the Dark" was just recently published. If you know me, and if you visit this blog often, you'd know that this is a life-altering event for me. I am absolutely biased for the Great Master, but I am beginning to notice a trend against Paul Auster that is not only disturbing to me, but also (and from a purely objective stand point) bordering on the Ad Hominem/character assassination. Now, "fair is fair..." but this trend doesn't even reflect an ounce of fairness.

First, Paul Auster is "pound-for-pound" the best contemporary writer today. Most people would probably ask who he is, or how could he be such a good writer and not be rubbing elbows with Dan Brown, Dr. Phil, or Jodi Picoult? The most recent New York Times Book Review issue featuring the review for "Man in the Dark" might prove helpful in deciphering the new trend of Paul Auster Bashing. While the review was not favorable, I tried very hard to look deeply (and objectively) into it to see what the discontent is with this great writer. First, I need to point out that the previous effort by Paul Auster "Travels in the Scriptorium" suffered from the same lack-luster review, mainly based on personal attacks and distorted "artsy" language that tends to be more political than literary. Nevertheless, why would a reviewer risk such a personal attack disguised as an objective review, a review attacking the man, and not the work that is indeed of the highest caliber? Could it be personal and professional jealousy? (And I say this because Paul Auster's wife, Siri Hustvedt suffers from the same poor reviews). Could it possibly be because Paul Auster's reclusive life? (He lives quietly in Brooklyn, NY... he's no Dan Brown or Dr. Phil). Could it possibly be because of his most recent film, "The Inner Life of Martin Frost?" (oh, yes... I suspect that is part of the problem... 'What do you mean? He writes and directs films?'). Here are some other facts that might clear up the argument for or against the fact that other people are jealous of Paul Auster:

1--Paul Auster is admired, loved and considered a 'genius' in Europe. Considering the fact that the French view him as a literary "Second Coming" of sorts should win you enough enemies.

2--Paul Auster is an accomplished film director/screenwriter. "Oh, but I've never heard of his films!" Exactly.

3--Paul Auster has a following within the literary circles in New York. You know, those stuck up artsy types who think they are better than the rest of the world. The interesting fact is that Paul Auster's writing doesn't aim to cater to that group. If you are a voracious reader, and you like to think deeply about literature, then Paul Auster is for you. No artsy attitude needed.

4--Paul Auster's academic essays (collected, among other volumes, in "The Art of Hunger") are of the highest ranking among college professors who want to challenge their students with deep literary analysis. Want to read about The Book of the Dead, Celine, Kafka and Dada? This book is for you.

I realize I must sound like a teenage girl defending her high school "crush" 20 years after graduating. But taking aside the fact that I am a great fan, what's going on in the book review business is simply deplorable. I suppose it has to do with the Global Economy and 21st Century gaga... but give Paul Auster a break! To say he is running out of material is simply a personal opinion, not an objective assessment. When (and I say when because it is a goddamn matter of time) Paul Auster wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, I'll have the last laugh.

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At 3:25 PM, Blogger simona ardelean said...

I can hardly wait for that book to be translated in Romanian. You know what I mean. No harm in defending him. He defends himself by what he we'll leave behind. the saying about not being prophet in your own country..:)

At 2:58 AM, Blogger Diana said...

I soo agree with you, and not only because I´m a big fan, also because I consider Mr. Auster that, a prophet. I´m still waiting for those China photos!


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