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Reality Is Worse

Adam Mars-Jones: Lydia Davis, 17 April 2014

Can’t and Won’t 
by Lydia Davis.
Hamish Hamilton, 304 pp., £16.99, April 2014, 978 0 241 14664 4
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... of which no details are given. Those attuned to gossip and aware of her past marriage to Paul Auster get nothing more substantial to chew on than a fragmentary piece called ‘An Awkward Situation’ in which an unnamed ex-husband solicits help with a writing project. A few unthrilling details can be deduced. She plays the piano. Either she has ...


Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade, 17 August 2006

... unknown (or too well-known) man. A book, In the Wake of a Deadad, would emerge. Even silence – Paul Auster, Dinos Chapman, Richard Wentworth – would be published. ‘No reply’ becomes part of the texture, along with hesitations, prevarications, confessions. Many of the respondents turn Kötting’s challenge back on themselves: their refusal to ...

Into the Alley

Daniel Soar: Dashiell Hammett, 3 January 2002

Nightmare Town: Stories 
by Dashiell Hammett, edited by Kirby McCauley and Martin Greenberg et al.
Picador, 396 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 0 330 48109 6
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Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett 1921-60 
edited by Richard Layman and Julie Rivett.
Counterpoint, 650 pp., £28.99, June 2001, 1 58243 081 0
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... rewriting Don Quixote word for word, and his version turns out to be better than the original. Paul Auster, in the New York Trilogy, follows the logic of detection into dizzy madness. But these clevernesses aren’t just sparked by the idea: they are affected by detective fiction’s glamour. And much of this glamour comes from film, and most of that ...

Play Again?

Matthew Reynolds: Douglas Coupland’s ‘JPod’, 3 August 2006

by Douglas Coupland.
Bloomsbury, 448 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 9780747582229
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... a loss. That is why ‘Douglas Coupland’ is so much shiftier than his nearest relative, the ‘Paul Auster’ of City of Glass, and why he is in partnership with Kam Fong, the smuggler of drugs and people. JPod offers itself not – like Coupland’s other novels – as something different, warm-hearted and transformative and true, but as one more ...


Jenny Diski: Rape-Rape, 5 November 2009

... pursued. Then I got twitchy when I read the petition written by Bernard-Henri Lévy, and signed by Paul Auster, Milan Kundera, William Shawcross, Claude Lanzmann, Salman Rushdie, Mike Nichols, Neil Jordan, and, to bring up the female numbers, Diane von Furstenberg, the Isabelles Adjani and Huppert, Yamani Benguigui, Danièle Thompson and Arielle ...

Reality B

Christopher Tayler: Haruki Murakami’s ‘1Q84’, 15 December 2011

1Q84: Book 1 and Book 2 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Harvill Secker, 623 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 1 84655 407 0
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1Q84: Book 3 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill Secker, 364 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 1 84655 405 6
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... private fantasies: on this view, that’s what Murakami is about. In the West, where he supplanted Paul Auster on student bookshelves before acquiring widespread middlebrow acceptability, his books have picked up an additional aura of artiness and ineffableness which causes hard-nosed readers to denounce them from time to time as a rich country’s brand ...

Make them go away

Neal Ascherson: Grossman’s Failure, 3 February 2011

To the End of the Land 
by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen.
Cape, 577 pp., £18.99, September 2010, 978 0 224 08999 9
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... is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.’ So wrote Nicole Krauss. Paul Auster ranked the book with Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina: ‘wrenching, beautiful, unforgettable’. Grossman’s American publisher called it ‘one of the very greatest novels I shall have the privilege of publishing … When critics look back at ...

Hurt in the Guts

Joe Dunthorne: A Masterpiece and a Disaster, 1 April 2021

Michael Kohlhaas 
by Heinrich von Kleist, translated by Michael Hofmann.
New Directions, 112 pp., £11.99, April 2020, 978 0 8112 2834 3
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... suffers terribly and/or dies. That the other blurbs come from Roberto Bolaño, Susan Sontag and Paul Auster indicates that Kleist at last achieved the fame he longed for in his lifetime. In 2013, there was even a big budget film version – Age of Uprising – starring Mads Mikkelsen at his most weatherbeaten. This is the seventh English translation ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal, 10 May 2007

Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... composure suggestive of Burt Lancaster playing Lampedusa’s Leopard. Neither Vidal nor Howard Auster, his long-standing companion, swam in the pool, which was even more impressively blue than the sea at the foot of the cliff. Sunshine, cypresses, cicadas, scented air, the physical drama: all the sense-heightening Mediterranean stuff. Kurt Vonnegut, a ...

Wanting to Be Something Else

Adam Shatz: Orhan Pamuk, 7 January 2010

The Museum of Innocence 
by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely.
Faber, 720 pp., £18.99, December 2009, 978 0 571 23700 5
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... and almost never – a further compliment – to the contemporary writers he most resembles, Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami, whose amiable postmodern noirs unfold in urban labyrinths and feature cerebral men searching for their own identities, and enigmatic women with an alarming tendency to vanish. He has produced novels with fantastic ...

I told you so!

James Davidson: Oracles, 2 December 2004

The Road to Delphi: The Life and Afterlife of Oracles 
by Michael Wood.
Chatto, 271 pp., £17.99, January 2004, 0 7011 6546 4
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... all this, it is hardly surprising to learn from the acknowledgments that he has been talking to Paul Auster, whose recent Oracle Night treats with some of the same topics. The Road to Delphi is very much Auster territory, emphasising the uncanny effects you can produce when you play Escheresque games with time and ...

At the Crime Scene

Adam Shatz: Robbe-Grillet’s Bad Thoughts, 31 July 2014

A Sentimental Novel 
by Alain Robbe-Grillet, translated by D.E. Brooke.
Dalkey Archive, 142 pp., £9.50, April 2014, 978 1 62897 006 7
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... appeared under the names of other writers: Italo Calvino (If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller), Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy) and, later, Jean-Philippe Toussaint and Tom McCarthy.† In 2001 he published a sort of spy-thriller, a nouveau nouveau roman set in a ravaged postwar Berlin, but its title, La Reprise ...

But this is fateful!

Theo Tait: Jonathan Lethem, 16 March 2017

The Blot: A Novel 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 289 pp., £16.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 10148 6
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The Blot 
by Jonathan Lethem and Laurence Rickels.
Anti-Oedipus, 88 pp., £6.99, September 2016, 978 0 9905733 7 1
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... idea came out of his love for stories about gamblers, such as Walter Tevis’s The Hustler and Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance. For the Singapore sections, he reread a fair amount of Graham Greene. The idea of a man whose life is changed by an operation on his face was inspired by the John Frankenheimer thriller Seconds, in which John Randolph is ...

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