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Paul Auster: the hidden hero is me

The title is misleading. There is no hidden hero in the work of Paul Auster. Or if?

The answer seems simple: in his novels, the protagonist is usually a writer who assumes a specific role, that of a detective for example.

The events occur at the same time that the protagonist tells them, that is, writes them. As if that were not enough, in general what is narrated are events of daily life typical of a writer's routine, without major shocks or epic aspirations.

Conclusion: the hero of those novels is Paul Auster himself.

As if to confirm this conclusion, Auster has left abundant autobiographical elements in his work that support his stories; much more than is usually found in the work of other narrators.

But everything is not so easy. In a televised interview, Auster himself was in charge of giving his version of the matter with a brilliant response: “They are not autobiographical – he responded, referring to his novels – they use autobiographical material, but they are not autobiographical in the classic sense. The truth is that I'm not that interested in myself, it's not like I want to tell my life; I am interested, yes, in what it feels like to be alive, and it is my story that I know better than any other. At some point I just wanted to sit down and write things about my life as a way to share it with other people. "I think that these books are a kind of mechanism that can inspire the reader to remember events from his own life, which is different from simply wanting to tell mine."

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

In this way, we all enter the biography of Paul Auster, which ends up being our own biography. And this is not a play on words.

As these novels are short on great events and short on adventures, Auster's books are especially nourished by reflections, a constant low-key philosophizing parallel to the most basic acts of daily life; that kind of daily life that inevitably affects us all equally.

The familiar, the déjà vu, also explains how incredibly entertaining novels are in which the narrator lingers on intricate musings that, being another writer, would make us abandon reading almost immediately. That and the use of language whose plainness seems to originate from disinterest in a more elaborate and “elegant” style.

In this it is also Auster himself who comes to deny us. Faced with the inevitable question about his work habits, the writer responds in another interview that he considers himself well paid if he manages to write at least one page a day; and then he specifies: “that means correcting each paragraph fourteen, fifteen or more times.”

Mr. Auster, from the real world, flows freely in each of the pages he wrote, although he was careful not to tell himself fully. Something like a kind of fateful wheel in which man cannot stop writing and the writer cannot stop including himself in what is written. A condemnation, in short, that he himself clarifies in his latest novel, Baumgartner, through a play on words that is impossible to translate from English to Spanish. A life sentence that condemns him to a life of making sentences. Scripture and condemnation are thus equated.
Baumgartner is Paul Auster's swan song.

Seriously ill, faced with the imminence of death, the novelist seems to retrace the steps of a life inextricably linked to writing: “I understand the harshness of the sentence, but I must acknowledge to the authorities that the door to my cell has never been closed.” , and I have no doubt that I could have left whenever I wanted to. It's not that I haven't been tempted, but for reasons I've never fully understood, I've decided to stay here.”

He served his sentence until the last minute of his life. Making sentences, not writing them, to emphasize with that verb make the artisanal nature, of physical construction of writing.

Baumgartner has an abrupt ending; We will never know if it was the writer's choice or an imposition of death.

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