December 20, 2014
Paul Auster celebrated at US Embassy in BA
By Andrew Graham-Yooll
For the Herald
After a 12-year absence, by his own count, US author Paul Auster is back in Buenos Aires and ostensibly enjoying it. With South African J.M. Coetzee, both have shared stardom in BA. They’ve had a grand reception. Yesterday the venue was the US embassy, presently led by Kevin Sullivan (in photo with Auster).
The meeting was a quieter affair than previous functions on Auster’s tour. The US embassy had called in about one hundred writers, journalists and cultural workers for an event that became a sort of tribute to Auster.
The grand function was at the book fair on Sunday which gathered an estimated three thousand people, according to organizers, where Auster and South African Nobel winner John Maxwell Coetzee read and discussed their correspondence between 2008 and 2011, collected in a volume published last year. Last Friday, Auster faced a smaller group at the Malba, still intense at 400 readers and admirers.
However, even though the gathering was small, people wanted to know all there was to learn about Auster. For example, he writes in long-hand and types on an ancient Olympia which he bought for US$40 decades ago. What seemed the most important aspect of the continued use of an old typewriter — he can’t create or “think” on screen — is that he has found a man by the name of Schweitzer in New York to repair any breakdown and supply typewriter ribbons.
He doesn’t read much while writing his own work, and would not discuss the subject that he is engaged on at present. When working on his own writing he prefers an activity such as watching a film in the evening or some other form of entertainment, to switch off.
The author of 16 novels, the trade mark creation being his New York Trilogy, Auster said he started to come into contact with Latin American writers via who else but Jorge Luis Borges, whose El Aleph was his favourite.
But it was the late Tomás Eloy Martínez who first made him aware of how much he was read in Argentina and the region. Auster’s friendship with T.E. Martínez prompted him to visit the Foundation that his friend’s sons have organized in their father’s memory, upstairs in a library at Carlos Calvo in the 4300 block.