The Art of Hunger
Paul Auster established an impressive reputation as a novelist during the 1980’s with his New York Trilogy (CITY OF GLASS, GHOSTS, and THE LOCKED ROOM) and subsequent works; his novel THE MUSIC OF CHANCE appeared in a film version in 1993. As Auster himself has described his work, “It seems that everything comes out a little strangely and my books don’t quite resemble other books.”
THE ART OF HUNGER is a fascinating guide to the development of Auster’s style and to his approach to the writing of fiction. Most of the essays and critical examinations collected in this volume were written while he was in the process of refining his narrative capabilities. As he recalls, “There was a period in the middle ’70s in particular when I found myself eager to test my ideas about writers in print...to marshal thoughts about that writer into something coherent.” The pieces he published in a variety of leading literary journals were generally the product of a letter suggesting a topic to the editor, and they are, taken together, a record of Auster’s intellectual growth and exploration.
The audience for these efforts will be found primarily among those readers who share Auster’s interests in some lesser-known American writers, and some European artists familiar only to serious students of world literature. There is no attempt to converse with people who have never heard of the Objectivist poets George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff and Carl Rakosi, or who don’t know anything about Laura Riding’s poetry, or are not interested in William Bronk. Auster assumes a reader’s interest—even knowledge of the works—equal to his own and proceeds to examine an entire career with insight and intellectual rigor. As an expert in European literature (he is the...
(The entire section is 442 words.)