4 3 2 1: A Novel by Paul Auster

4 3 2 1: A Novel by Paul Auster

Author:Paul Auster [Auster, Paul]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Published: 2017-01-30T23:00:00+00:00

4.4

In his three years as a high school student in the New Jersey suburbs, the sixteen-, seventeen-, and eighteen-year-old Ferguson started twenty-seven short stories, finished nineteen of them, and spent no less than one hour every day with what he called his work notebooks, which he filled with various writing exercises he invented for himself in order to stay sharp, dig down, and try to get better (as he once put it to Amy): descriptions of physical objects, landscapes, morning skies, human faces, animals, the effect of light on snow, the sound of rain on glass, the smell of burning wood, the sensation of walking through fog or listening to wind blow through the branches of trees; monologues in the voices of other people in order to become those other people or at least try to understand them better (his father, his mother, his stepfather, Amy, Noah, his teachers, his friends at school, Mr. and Mrs. Federman), but also unknown and more distant others such as J. S. Bach, Franz Kafka, the checkout girl at the local supermarket, the ticket collector on the Erie Lackawanna Railroad, and the bearded panhandler who cadged a dollar from him in Grand Central Station; imitations of admired, demanding, inimitable writers from the past (take a paragraph from Hawthorne, for example, and compose something based on his syntactical model, using a verb wherever he used a verb, a noun wherever he used a noun, an adjective wherever he used an adjective—in order to feel the rhythms in your bones, to feel how the music was made); a curious sequence of vignettes generated by puns, homonyms, and one-letter displacements of words: ail/ale, lust/lost, soul/soil, birth/berth; and impetuous jags of automatic writing to clear his brain whenever he was feeling stuck, as with a four-page scribble-gush inspired by the word nomad that began: No, I am not mad. Nor am I even angry, but give me a chance to discombobulate you, and I’ll pick your pockets clean. He also wrote one one-act play, which he burned in disgust one week after finishing it, and twenty-three of the foulest stinker poems ever hatched by a citizen of the New World, which he tore up after promising himself never to write another poem again. He mostly hated what he did. He mostly thought he was stupid and talentless and would never amount to anything, but still he persisted, driving himself to keep at it every day in spite of the often disappointing results, understanding there would be no hope for him unless he kept at it, that becoming the writer he wanted to be would necessarily take years, more years than it would take for his body to finish growing, and every time he wrote something that seemed slightly less bad than the piece that had come before it, he sensed he was making progress, even if the next piece turned out to be an abomination, for the truth was that he didn’t have a choice, he was destined



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