HOW I INTERVIEWED PAUL AUSTER Author’s note: Beware! Stop reading now if you don’t want to get hooked. Paul Auster is addictive. He smokes and writes. And lives in Brooklyn. The first Auster book I read was The New York Trilogy. I was intrigued by those ‘noirish’ postmodern games with identity and genres, but I didn’t become an Auster fan yet. It was really Moon Palace that did it. I guess I like Auster’s story-telling abilities more than his post-modern games. And inevitably, after Moon Palace, I got hooked. As a result, I started reading all the books by Auster and decided to include Moon Palace in the first reading list of my American Literature course. Teaching Moon Palace I learned more and more about it and ended up writing a paper on it (“Postmodern Visions of the West”) which I presented at the Conference of the Spanish Association for American Studies. I had finished my dissertation on Dashiell Hammett and was looking for another writer to spend my free time (?) letting my neurones fly high around a guy and his imagination. I decided it would be nice to use the Auster excuse to travel to the US with my family and get bibliography (buy books, photocopy articles, stuff like that). Therefore, I wrote a letter to Dennis Barone (the author of the only book published in the US about Auster) to ask him for a letter of invitation to his University. To
make a long story short, he was really nice and I ended up as a “Visiting Scholar” at Yale University (!). It was a great summer and I came back with Auster’s phone number and address in my pockets (courtesy of Dennis).
love to. I asked for Auster’s permission, he said he would like to correct it, we faxed each other several proofs, and I finally sent the interview to the Revista. You can read the final result on my website.
I had decided to focus my research on Paul Auster’s relationship with film, and I thought it would be a good idea to try and interview Auster about it. Therefore, I sent a letter to Paul Auster’s address. His “assistant” answered that he wouldn’t mind, we just had to decide how and when. Since, in the meantime, Auster had been awarded the Príncipe de Asturias Prize, I suggested travelling to Oviedo for the interview, but he said it would probably be too hectic (and it was!). I did travel to Oviedo and asked him (and Pedro Almodóvar) a couple of questions from the audience. But the closest to Auster I got was like three hundred meters.
PS A few months later Auster came to the San Sebastian Film Festival for the première of his latest film (The Inner Life of Martin Frost). I ended up meeting him (briefly) and having this picture taken.
We eventually decided to have a phone interview and we agreed on a date. It was the Saturday during Thanksgiving weekend in the States, Auster was in his Brooklyn home and you could hear the noise of breakfast in the background. He was extremely nice and helpful. I had faxed him the questions (he doesn’t use e-mail, he still writes longhand and then types the result in his old typewriter) and we spent almost one hour talking about his relationship with film. I didn’t know if I would publish the interview yet but as soon as I mentioned it in a conference, the Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos said they would
I can’t help thinking I look like a ‘groupie’ by the side of the cool rock star, but what the heck, it’s Paul Auster! Jesús Ángel González