- Taschenbuch: 448 Seiten
- Verlag: Faber and Faber Ltd.; Auflage: Trade Paperback. (16. November 1998)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0571195970
- ISBN-13: 978-0571195978
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,6 x 3,3 x 19,8 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 171.604 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 16. November 1998
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In this aptly titled memoir Paul Auster takes a hacksaw to the romanticised notion of the Starving Artist. Deciding he needs experience more than schooling ("I didn't want to talk about books anymore, I wanted to write them"), the would-be writer heads off to seek his fortune...as an airconditioner installer, a utilityman on the Esso Florence, and a writer of educational filmstrip copy (to name only a few). In doing so, he strips bare the glamour of the writing life to reveal the grainy, sad truth of an unknown scribe trying to make ends meet. And as further evidence against the Hollywood version he includes early writings and money-making attempts in a fascinating set of appendices.
But rather than let this marginal existence get him down, Auster fuels his writing with the folks he meets along the way. For instance, Casey and Teddy, a hilarious vaudevillian duo whom he encounters while groundskeeper at the Commodore Hotel, bear a striking resemblance to the two main characters in Auster's early play, Laurel and Hardy Go to Heaven (included in Appendix 1). And no memoir would be complete without a few brushes with the rich and famous; enter Jerzy Kosinski (Auster edited Cockpit), as well as brief encounters with John Lennon and the home of Mark Rothko.
Of all the schemes Auster cooks up to stay afloat, none is more doomed (nor more endearing) than Action Baseball (Appendix 2), a card game he invents and endeavours to sell to various toy companies. Of course, his final scheme--to write and publish a detective novel (Appendix 3)--is the reason you're reading this now. --Martha Silano
"Delightful...A gracious and humane tale...One can only marvel at Auster's artistry. -T"he Boston Sunday Globe" "Auster writes in a voice so clear, so mesmerizing, and so profound...[he] is unafraid of his own power, precisely because he has acknowledged humiliation's alchemy, its way of letting words vibrate at whatever weird, golden velocity they wish, "Hand to Mouth "vibrates...beautiful." -Wayne Koestenbaum, "Bookforum" "Required, inspiring reading for Auster-holics and aspiring writers." -"Kirkus Reviews" "An engaging account of his early attempts to stay afloat as a writer...with a colorful cast of sharply etched characters who he meets along the way." -"Chicago Tribune" "As a cautionary tale for writers, this is a superb book." -"Publishers Weekly"Alle Produktbeschreibungen
Nach seinem High-School-Abschluss begab sich der junge Auster auf eine Europatour, die ihn unter anderem nach Frankreich, Spanien, Italien und Irland führte. Europa im Allgemeinen und Dublin im Besonderen scheinen einen maßgeblichen Einfluss auf ihn ausgeübt zu haben: "Something terrible, I think, some mesmerizing encounter with my own depths, as if in the loneliness of those days I had looked into the darkness and seen myself for the first time" (23). Schon bald zieht es ihn zurück nach Europa, genauer gesagt nach Paris, wo er vier Jahre seines Lebens verbringen wird und wo sich zentrale Elemente seiner Philosophie herausbilden, während er als schreibender Tagelöhner seinen Lebensunterhalt bestreiten muss.
In "Hand to Mouth" konstruiert Auster einen Charakter, wie wir ihn aus vielen seiner Romane kennen: eine einzelne Person kämpft allein gegen die unvorhersehbaren Zumutungen seiner Existenz sowie die gleichgütige Kontigenz des Universums. Dementsprechend liegt in Austers Anfängen der Schlüssel zum Verständnis seines gesamtem Werkes.
He works on an oil tanker, does freelance translations in Paris. He even translates the North-Vietnamese Constitution from French to English, is sent to Mexico to ghostwrite a novel that never sees the light of day. Eventually he becomes so strapped for cash he designs a card game version of baseball that nobody wants. Plenty of failure to go around, for sure.
Should you read this as an aspiring writer or as somebody who wants to pay the price to live follow her dream?
He's never actually starving. If you want to know how to survive on extremely cheap food, just email me. He bumps into lots of interesting characters along the way, but his description doesn't capture these souls. You do feel that these people touched him in some way, but he can't really share that experience with the reader. He meets John Lennon, but we only hear one sentence that Lennon utters. It's a fine sentence, but still. He works on a novel by Jerzy Kosinsky, here we do get some interesting info, but little has to do with failure, or living hand to mouth or the craft of writing.
If you're expecting to find out how a wannabe writer finally makes it, you won't find it here. If you want advice on how to be a better writer, turn elsewhere (The breakout novel by Donald Maass is a good start). If you want to learn how to survive on a very tight budget, I'm sure there are better books out there.
What's good about it?
In an age in which we scream our so-called joys, accomplishments, and what we had for dinner to the world, 24/7, it's refreshing to read a book from someone who lists his failures.
Though I get the feeling he didn't tell all, and that there were far more painful failures that he could have discussed in detail, to the benefit of the reader. The book is also remarkably devoid of any sexual encounters. He does have them, because he ends up with a bad case of 'the clap', but still.
Any takeaway lessons? He was wriring constantly. He stuck to his dream of wanting to become a writer. He did make some compromises along the way, but all in all he kept his eyes on the prize.
Is this the formula for success? Just keep your nose to the grind-stone? I'm not so sure, since we will never know how many people got buried this year alone in a coffin with 50 of their unpublished manuscripts. Though I suppose, keeping your nose to the grindstone is a better formula for success than rarely letting your nose anywhere near the grindstone.
The book could have been more, the writer didn't dig deep enough, but wasn't all together bad. Some scenes were quite endearing (the one with the dean when Auster wants to quit college for example). Some others were quite revealing (the scenes when he tries to sell his baseball game).
Stephen King's book 'on writing, a memoir of the craft', though also not that hot, is a bit better than this one.
Read it or weed it?
Ok, weed it.
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