Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I got a little problem with you not calling me.

There's of all things a quaint O.D.B. tale in The New Yorker's Talk of the Town this week. Well, quaint for the surviving Russell, anyway.

The story sounds like something out of a Paul Auster book, which brings to mind this link, which appeared at Sarah Weinman's place a week or so back. Years ago yours truly fell into an Auster hole. The first pill, The New York Trilogy, spurred an Auster marathon, fed by an all-too-eager enabler that I knew at his publisher. Reading those first three stories as an impressionable new city dweller was like peering behind the Matrix; they gave a sense of the enormity and mystery of the notion of identity, and held out the promise, the possibility, of losing oneself. In the throes of my Austermania, I was sure his name was fabricated, so that, in French, it was an anagram for pas l'auteur. Problem was, the more Auster one reads, the more one discovers the same book, the same story, the exact same issues. It got so I couldn't keep one book from bleeding into the others in my mind. Hearing about Oracle Night, which I haven't read, in the linked essay, it's clear that Auster is the Ouroboros of authors, endlessly feeding off of his own creations. Now he's feeding off of others. At this point the only work of his I can stand is the graphic novelization of City of Glass, which holds up tremendously well, and which, of course, is a collaboration. After sampling himself to death, Auster needs a good producer -- say, Art Spiegelman, the literary RZA -- to get over.


Blogger Chilly Jay Chill said...

I read the ODB piece, which was... sweet, really. And sad. You've really gone underground when your bandmates are trying to contact you through the phone book. "Underground" is a cringingly apt word choice, but I'll leave it.

As for Auster, well, yes. The trilogy still sticks in my head (the third one is the best) and "The Music of Chance" remains one of the scariest horror novels ever penned despite the fact that not much happens. But he's on autopilot now and diminshing returns set in after you've tackled a few of his tomes.

The graphic novel of "City of Glass" is a brillant work of art in its own right, but I think the credit goes to the adapter (not Art S., just series editor) and the superb brushstrokes of David Mazzucchelli, who really ought to do more comix work. It's one of the few adaptions that might outdo the original. Reading it I'm hard pressed to figure what they left out and wonder why Auster didn't think of using those ingenious grids to organize his pages.

And: did I ever tell you how reading "Ghosts" - the second book in the trilogy - helped me to overcome my disdain of ambient music? Maybe a longer post for another time.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Prof. Drew LeDrew said...

Had the same though: Method needs to call 411 to find him?

Totally agree re Auster. Music of Chance I liked -- got to it early in my Austeralia -- but having seen the movie, my memory of the book is now inexplicably locked up with an image of Mandy Patinkin's face, which kind of ruins it for me. Also, thanks for tipping the City of Glass artist.

"Ghosts" and ambient music, eh? Do tell. Sorta speaking of, spun In a Silent Way late last night [headphones] and was SO into it, I had to listen all the way through despite the late hour and my total exhaustion. Those cuts are so NOW it's hard to fathom. I remember my first listen to "Shhh/Peaceful" -- this is peaceful?

2:28 PM  

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