Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Where does Paul Auster generally draw the names of his characters from, and why are his choices relevant?

How does Auster employ elements of horror and mystery?

What is the importance of place in Auster’s work?

Consider the general symbolic significance of Auster’s work. What comment on American society is he making?

How does Auster examine the connectedness of things?

Auster, like Fanshawe in The Locked Room, shows a fondness for little anecdotes or parables in his work. How do these asides, which often deal with historical and literary figures, help one to understand the characters?

Auster seems to be preoccupied by chance, circumstance, and choice. Do his characters follow realistic paths, or is what happens to them represented in a fantastic way?

What, in Auster’s work, is the relationship between the actual world and the world of the imagination?