Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
Gems and junk strung on a binding.
am 22. September 1997
How much you enjoy Paul Auster's 'Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure' depends on why you read it in the first place. His premise for this memoir is laid out simply in the subtitle, where 'chronicle' refers to a straightforward narrative combined with the actual texts of his first publishing efforts, one of which is a card game. It sounds like a breathtaking rollercoaster, but the thrills end up happening on a kiddie scale.
The problem with 'Hand to Mouth' is that there's too much failure and not enough chronicle. Auster's path to publication includes several waystations: a merchant ship, stints in France, a Catskills resort. At one point, just before describing the outcome of his assignment to help a film bigshot's wife write a vanity book in Mexico, he begins, "Without rehashing the whole thing..." Well, what else are memoirs for, you might ask? Several instances Auster mentions thoroughout his story--the birth of his child and breakup of his marriage, for example, which get no more than a sentence or two--merit all the rehashing this talented writer can muster. Instead, the space saved by Auster's restraint goes to three plays, a card game, and a mystery novella from his early days. Of these, the mystery is really the only thing that stands on its own; maybe that's why it's the only item he was able to sell before going on to write acclaimed novels such as 'Mr. Vertigo' and 'The Music of Chance.'
This brings us back to why you might choose to buy Auster's book. Those looking for personal details or a finely honed true-life adventure story should look elsewhere; but any aspiring writer can find encouragement in Auster's trials and tribulations. Despite the excess of economy in what he tells, Auster makes even a sketch of his past an enveloping read. And if it leaves you hankering for more, is that such a crime? At $25 for the hardcover, well, *almost*.