Excerpted from Paul Auster's A Life in Words: Conversations with I. B. Siegumfeldt, available for purchase from our site at 25% off list price.
In the conversation below, acclaimed novelist Paul Auster and scholar I. B. Siegumfeldt discuss Auster's "Portrait of an Invisible Man," which comprises one half of The Invention of Solitude and served as the pivotal piece of writing for Auster's movement into a style wholly his own. Auster discusses the hazards of literary education ("I’d come to such a point of self-consciousness that I somehow believed that every novel had to be completely worked out in advance"); the death of his father ("My father came from the generation of men who wore neckties, and apparently he kept every tie he ever owned. When he died, there must have been a hundred of them in his closet. You are confronted by these ties, which are, in a sense, a miniature history of his life."); and the vitality of the unconscious ("I understood that everything comes from within and moves out. It’s never the reverse. Form doesn’t precede content. The material itself will find its own form as you’re working through it."). We hope you enjoy!