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The debts of a ghostwriter

Paul Auster, the Brooklyn writer: between fiction and reality

When they recommended that I read Paul Auster, at the end of the last century, they suggested that I first watch the movie Smoke and if I liked it, that I read The Music of Chance and The New York Trilogy. The film is extraordinary and with actors like Harvey Keitel and William Hurt it gets better reviews.

I got the New York Trilogy books separately. City of Glass, the first, caught me from the first sentence: “It all started with a wrong number, the phone rang three times in the middle of the night and the voice on the other end asked for someone who wasn't him.”

There are ways to get to know New York and with Auster you can get to walk streets that are not the busiest. To live lives with imaginary and literary names. Search for yourself, with your first and last name and have parallel lives.

In City of Glass the author proposes several theories. One of them asks what could be the reason why things are named for their usefulness and continue to be called the same when they no longer have the usefulness for which they were named.

From then on, I became what Stephen King calls a “complete reader.”
I read almost all of Auster's work, including Pressure Play (1984), which he published under the pseudonym Paul Benjamin - both of his first names - and my library came to have the colors of the books in the Compact and Panorama collection of narratives. from the Anagrama publishing house.

Also read the literary criticism about the same book Paul Auster: the hidden hero is me by Cosimo Mandrillo

In the Compacto (pocket) collection “the crown jewels are kept,” said editor Jorge Herralde at the 2002 Guadalajara International Book Fair.

There are also Vladimir, Nabokov, Patricia Highsmith, Raymond Carver, among many others. But since 2011, Auster's work would go to the pocket editions of the publishing house Seix Barral (Grupo Planeta) for one million euros, traded at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

“As you understand, it was very difficult for me to give up such a large sum of money. "I'm about to turn 65, I don't know how many books I'll be able to write and the money gives me some peace of mind about ensuring the future for Siri and Sophie when I'm no longer able to earn as much as I have in the past," Paul Auster wrote to Herralde when the editor found out—and was upset—that the decision to abandon Anagrama was about money.

Baumgartner was his last novel. It appeared a few months before he died and, more than the approaching death, it is the old age of a writer that imposes itself on his pages. Narrating the slowness of the actions can show a certain mastery, although it does not reach the exasperation that Kazuo Ishiguro can cause with a couple of his characters who are inside an elevator for more than twenty pages and have only advanced a couple of floors.
Auster has been an invisible character in each of his novels. His life turned to fiction without it being totally true, because, ultimately, the reconstruction of the stories becomes fiction.

The titles of his novels are worthy of literary studies. The Invention of Solitude—which is not a novel, but it seems—suggests so many things that it could be a treatise on life, but seeing that the book has so few pages, the idea is quickly abandoned.

In his novels he always tries to present a theory. In The Music of Chance the system of human trafficking is presented through a debtor who, even when he believes that he has paid the debt, must continue working as a slave because his debt has made him incur other debts.

The author is also a debtor in many of his novels, where you will find that there are 10 pages left to finish it and he is beginning a story so extraordinary that it seems incredible that the book is ending.

Phantom limb syndrome is what triggers Baumgartner's story.
I wonder if Auster's disappearance will generate ghost writer syndrome in the readers of his novels and essays.

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