Paul Auster: Why Roth Is Wrong About the Novel

24 thoughts on “Paul Auster: Why Roth Is Wrong About the Novel

  1. Of course he's gonna disagree — he doesn't even have a cell phone…Paul Auster is a Luddite! He says, "the technology eludes me." Eludes him? As in, too lazy to learn how to use a laptop, or a cell fone? Rocket science eludes me, but then again, I'm not a scientist. The point is, you don't have to be a techie, or a geek, to use these basic screens, which are sucking up people's time to read in a way they previously did not. Hence, what Philip Roth said is true, at least truer than what Mr Paul is saying here.

  2. Roth is an obsessed sick man who lives on his laurels since Goodbye Columbus and never wrote anything worthwhile since. I wish I didn't waste my time reading some of his novels, including the horrible Portnoy

  3. It's not just the younger generation – it's the adults too. I was at a beach next to a beautiful lake at the country-side, the weather was sunny and the water was warm, and I thought – where is everyone? And it was like this most days except maybe at the weekends.. everyone was spending their time, after working, in their homes in front of the TV. 

    The younger generation doesn't have a attention deficit problem, they have a bad information overload problem. They are in the process of learning to discern the magnitude of information they are bombarded with every day.. most of it says: you need our information, you need our products, you need to give us your attention because your welfare depends on it – don't miss it! Or you'll be a social outcast, a dummy, out of the loop, etc. So they are really doing their best, in a world where everyone wants their attention, and were scientists are working in labs to find the best way to convince them they need their product. And sadly most adults fall for it also.

    So in this context the advice "read these books society considers good" is not easily taken to heart. The younger generation need to say "no thanks" to information that clearly isn't serving their interest. They need to turn off the TV (on a optimistic note this is happening more and more). And everyone need to start to improve their own discernment of what is empowering and what serves them. Then people will gravitate to the good works of fiction.

  4. Hemingway wrote that one goes bankrupt gradually then suddenly. Auster can't imagine historical change–when he speaks of "reinvention" he's talking about how things stay the same, i.e the novel's not going anywhere. The younger generation–my own–certainly seems to have an attention deficit problem. This isn't necessarily a problem for Paul Auster, but it is for serious fiction. And consumer statistics doesn't mean the books are actually being read: Gatsby's volumes had uncut pages, and who doesn't want to impress with a library of erudite wallpaper?

  5. But this very author–lionized in all his mediocrity–is among the reasons why the novel is dead.

  6. "An experience out of reading–that's all the really matters." Ding, ding, ding–WE HAVE A WINNER.

  7. In every Auster book I've read the end would be reached 30 to 40 pages in if one character would simply ask the obvious question of another . It's all misperception or illinterpretation . Like a slasher movie where you want to yell at the screen , " Don't go in the basement, you moron ! ", I want to yell at Austers' characters , " Just ask the question that any normal person would ! "

  8. No, his point is that just because something is contemporary doesn't mean its bad. Philip Roth of Portnoy's Complaint was jostling, sharp elbowed amongst the paperbacks with the best of them in his day, he's just forgotten. And people are reading great books – they are churned out by the million each year in cheap paperback copies. They might also be reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – which might be excelelnt, I don't know I haven't read it.

  9. Hey, this guy is speaking truth!!!! Big respect to you sir! I never heard of you before or anything, but I totally agree 100%! 🙂 my understanding exactly!

  10. My point was: a story that is well-composed and suspenseful, but lacks in intellectual and or emotional depth can coexist with classics of literature that have exactly those latter qualities. Even within the taste of the same person. Just like I like both Die Hard and Synecdoche, New York at the same time within the film-universe.

  11. Yet he writes some of the sharpest prose we see of all the living writers today. How about turning down the pretentiousness a notch? We have here a writer who on one hand has incredible fascination for the simple, realistic story (his screenplay "Smoke") and on the other writes incredibly challenging, intellectually dense novels ("The New York Trilogy", "Leviathan")

  12. Why does nobody mention the importance to advertise these book well? I mean not on tv, but on school, etc.. Many of my friends grew up with the belief that reading books is for eighty year old men that don't get the internet. That's a dangerous assumption. And that's a reason why we should be thankful for Dan Brown, for JK Rowling, even for Stephanie Meyer and hollywood adaptions, that they get people curious to read books and, in my case, turn it into a passion.

  13. "Write what you know! Write about what you think will fill at least three chapters, by that time other idea's will come."

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