Paul Auster (1947 - 2024)

A photograph of Paul Auster taken in 2009 by Todd Heisler
Todd Heisler / The New York Times

Paul Auster was a fascinating, beautiful writer who plumbed themes and subjects I couldn't (and still can't) get enough of — chance, coincidence and the clockwork of the universe; loss and grief; belonging and place; the life of the mind and the act and consequence of writing itself.1 He personified my idea of the quintessential New York intellectual-artist. On the page, I love the velocity of his prose, the economy of his sentences, which avoid the mannered, overworked tendencies one finds in others to whom he might be compared. In the early 90s, I was fortunate to attend two of his readings, both to promote his 1992 novel Leviathan. His in-person storytelling possessed both an ease and a seriousness which were precisely, authentically "Austerian".

I confess over time I drifted from Auster's prodigious output, my devotion tested by novels that didn't wallop me like his early work. But, I felt secure knowing he was out there doing what compelled him, keeping on, unflinching, a force. I was comforted by my assumption I could always reconnect and catch up with his growing body of work when time allowed. In fact not a month ago I came across his latest, Baumgarten, which, with renewed affection, I found to be a return to form though through a more circumspect lens. And now he is gone.

NYT obituary

Literary Hub: Remembering Paul Auster

1 Perhaps my greatest debt to Paul Auster was his outsized yet uncited influence on my mouthful of a Master's Thesis: "From Fate to Indeterminacy: Examining Melodramatic and Comic Uses of Chance in Early Cinema and Their Transformation in the Classical Paradigm".