Auster, Paul ô´stər [key]
, 1947–, American writer, b. Newark, N.J. After publishing four volumes of poetry, he wrote his first novel, Squeeze Play
(1982). A compelling storyteller, Auster became well known for the short novels of The New York Trilogy
— City of Glass
(1986), and The Locked Room
(1986)—tautly surreal variations on the urban detective story. His later novels are written with great clarity, are extremely stylized, and are filled with elements of symbolism and the surreal as well as metaphysical and epistemological concerns. They often employ cinematic plots and pulp novel conventions; display a fascination with doppelgängers and coincidences; and feature a sharply contemporary, postmodern sensibility. These novels include Moon Palace
(1989); The Music of Chance
(1999), a tale of dog and master from the dog's point of view; The Book of Illusions
(2002); Oracle Night
(2003); The Brooklyn Follies
(2005); Travels in the Scriptorium
(2007); Man in the Dark
(2009), in which the central character learns about love from several people in varying situations, including an incestuous affair with his sister; Sunset Park
(2010); and 4 3 2 1
(2017), in which the protagonist's story is told in four parallel but different versions. Auster is also an essayist, translator, screenwriter, and memoirist.
See his memoirs, The Invention of Solitude (1982, repr. 2007), Hand to Mouth (1997, repr. 2003), Winter Journal (2012), and Report from the Interior (2013); C. Springer, A Paul Auster Sourcebook (2001); P. Auster and J. M. Coetzee, Here and Now: Letters, 2008–2011 (2013); studies by D. Barone, ed. (1995), A. Varvogli (2001), I. Shiloh (2002), H. Bloom, ed. (2004), M. Brown (2007), B. Martin (2008), and J. Peacock (2010).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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