In the High Peaks

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee in Bookish News

I was about to address the readers of this entry as "Auster fans." For such an esteemed American writer, fandom seems too commercial, too disrespectful of Paul Auster's stature in American letters. At least, that's my opinion. But, that said, if you are a devoted reader of Auster's work, have you heard about the volume of letters that he and J.M. Coetzee pulled together, entitled Here and Now: Letters 2008-2011, published by Viking Penguin this March, I believe?

Evidently the two literary comrades, living on opposite sides of the globe (the South African Coetzee now lives in Adelaide, Australia), decided to embark on an epistolary correspondence to see where it led, and with the possibility that they might pursue publication. The project seemed contrived to me at first, but then again, to a reader who has long lamented the loss of handwritten letters as documentary evidence, I was curious about what they might come up with. Anything and everything Auster does fascinates me, so I contemplated buying the book, but before I made the commitment, I found the book sitting on the "New Books Shelf" at the Lucy Scribner Library at Skidmore College, a place I frequent for my scholarly reading. So, last Friday afternoon I literally snatched it off the shelf with a little gasp, as if someone were about to grab it before I could claim it.

Auster's first letter to Coetzee is a reflection about friendship. Wouldn't you know I was so swamped this weekend I haven't had time to read it! Augghh!


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