39 thoughts on “Paul Auster: Why Roth Is Wrong About the Novel

  1. Of course he's gonna disagree — he doesn't even have a cell phone…Paul Auster is a Luddite! He says, "the technology eludes me." Eludes him? As in, too lazy to learn how to use a laptop, or a cell fone? Rocket science eludes me, but then again, I'm not a scientist. The point is, you don't have to be a techie, or a geek, to use these basic screens, which are sucking up people's time to read in a way they previously did not. Hence, what Philip Roth said is true, at least truer than what Mr Paul is saying here.

  2. Roth is an obsessed sick man who lives on his laurels since Goodbye Columbus and never wrote anything worthwhile since. I wish I didn't waste my time reading some of his novels, including the horrible Portnoy

  3. 'Human beings need stories, in WHATEVER FORM…', yeah well, exactly.

  4. I think Roth's point is made by the dying of so many brick and mortar stores. No lie.

  5. It's not just the younger generation – it's the adults too. I was at a beach next to a beautiful lake at the country-side, the weather was sunny and the water was warm, and I thought – where is everyone? And it was like this most days except maybe at the weekends.. everyone was spending their time, after working, in their homes in front of the TV. 

    The younger generation doesn't have a attention deficit problem, they have a bad information overload problem. They are in the process of learning to discern the magnitude of information they are bombarded with every day.. most of it says: you need our information, you need our products, you need to give us your attention because your welfare depends on it – don't miss it! Or you'll be a social outcast, a dummy, out of the loop, etc. So they are really doing their best, in a world where everyone wants their attention, and were scientists are working in labs to find the best way to convince them they need their product. And sadly most adults fall for it also.

    So in this context the advice "read these books society considers good" is not easily taken to heart. The younger generation need to say "no thanks" to information that clearly isn't serving their interest. They need to turn off the TV (on a optimistic note this is happening more and more). And everyone need to start to improve their own discernment of what is empowering and what serves them. Then people will gravitate to the good works of fiction.

  6. Hemingway wrote that one goes bankrupt gradually then suddenly. Auster can't imagine historical change–when he speaks of "reinvention" he's talking about how things stay the same, i.e the novel's not going anywhere. The younger generation–my own–certainly seems to have an attention deficit problem. This isn't necessarily a problem for Paul Auster, but it is for serious fiction. And consumer statistics doesn't mean the books are actually being read: Gatsby's volumes had uncut pages, and who doesn't want to impress with a library of erudite wallpaper?

  7. But this very author–lionized in all his mediocrity–is among the reasons why the novel is dead.

  8. "An experience out of reading–that's all the really matters." Ding, ding, ding–WE HAVE A WINNER.

  9. Just take a look at his eyes: Paul Auster sees 1.57 times more than the average person.

  10. In every Auster book I've read the end would be reached 30 to 40 pages in if one character would simply ask the obvious question of another . It's all misperception or illinterpretation . Like a slasher movie where you want to yell at the screen , " Don't go in the basement, you moron ! ", I want to yell at Austers' characters , " Just ask the question that any normal person would ! "

  11. No, his point is that just because something is contemporary doesn't mean its bad. Philip Roth of Portnoy's Complaint was jostling, sharp elbowed amongst the paperbacks with the best of them in his day, he's just forgotten. And people are reading great books – they are churned out by the million each year in cheap paperback copies. They might also be reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – which might be excelelnt, I don't know I haven't read it.

  12. Hey, this guy is speaking truth!!!! Big respect to you sir! I never heard of you before or anything, but I totally agree 100%! 🙂 my understanding exactly!

  13. i'm on that shady part of the internet where people's comments are as interesting as the video itself

  14. My point was: a story that is well-composed and suspenseful, but lacks in intellectual and or emotional depth can coexist with classics of literature that have exactly those latter qualities. Even within the taste of the same person. Just like I like both Die Hard and Synecdoche, New York at the same time within the film-universe.

  15. Yet he writes some of the sharpest prose we see of all the living writers today. How about turning down the pretentiousness a notch? We have here a writer who on one hand has incredible fascination for the simple, realistic story (his screenplay "Smoke") and on the other writes incredibly challenging, intellectually dense novels ("The New York Trilogy", "Leviathan")

  16. Why does nobody mention the importance to advertise these book well? I mean not on tv, but on school, etc.. Many of my friends grew up with the belief that reading books is for eighty year old men that don't get the internet. That's a dangerous assumption. And that's a reason why we should be thankful for Dan Brown, for JK Rowling, even for Stephanie Meyer and hollywood adaptions, that they get people curious to read books and, in my case, turn it into a passion.

  17. "Write what you know! Write about what you think will fill at least three chapters, by that time other idea's will come."

  18. This is the best channel ever. Almost every video is so thought-provoking.

  19. Don't let moribund geezers dissuade you. If you tell a good story, and tell it well, there will be a market. It might not be in paper. It might be on the Web. Keep in mind that billions of people will become literate in this century.

  20. "….the novel is such a flexible form, it's not like a (1:32 ) …X… it's not fixed…….."

    What's that missing word Paul used?

    Thnks. Tusen Takk. Grazie!

  21. Roth only said he doesn't read much fiction because "he wised up." and prefers history and biography. And that's fine and dandy for him. Cormac McCarthy's the same. These are hugely talented writers who have other ways of entertaining their teeming minds at this time of their lives.

  22. god, who cares about the 'death of the novel'? when was the novel ever a popular idiom in any era? but the novel always had a small band of loyal fans, and that pocket of loyalty will always remain.

  23. @Verrako because government's are broke. corporations aren't exactly into building public libraries where books are lent out for free

  24. People are reading books, but it's not the dominant medium of the time. That would be TV, film, or even video games like LA Noire.

    In the future, I think immersive video games in 3D where you experience reality (A la The Matrix), in a narrative form, where a story is told to you via an experience , will point the way towards where things are going. LA noire just hints at the possibilities of that. That's the future, and I think it will be so compelling that novels will become irrelevant.

  25. @reconstructioncoyote My son, who is a fairly accomplished reader and has waded through some Beckett and Hawkes, is a graphic novel fan and on his birthday, when at Powells Books here in Portland, I advised him to grab what he wanted and bring it all to the counter returned, quite quickly, with a 2 foot stack of graphic novels. [ Ouch] I spent some time scanning them and came away both puzzled [ what did he see in them?] and depressed [ is this a hint of what's coming?}

  26. I love grabbing a dusty old book from a remote corner, and opening it to a random page and just read for a bit…

  27. Watch Roth's interview with Tina Brown on this subject and it's pretty clear he doesn't mean that novels will go away. They'll just become like the Tony Awards. @HousleyMike: You're absolutely right,and let's not forget that a major reason the big publishers are in trouble is because they have been vastly overprinting for years. @Molloyxx1: Graphic novels requirement more equipment, frankly. They are simply a unique art form and can be just as "hefty" as a text novel.

  28. It is a fact that fewer and fewer people are reading novels, most especially novels of any kind of quality. Roth is keenly aware of what has been dubbed the 'post-literate culture' and says it plain. Auster goes all sideways, giving, I think, graphic novels, for example, [ comic books created by those who lack the equipment to write novels] equal heft. And that is patent nonsense.

  29. @CastleRockFan "The smart suffer because of the dumb". Love that sentence. Is it one of yours? (And I hope you are wrong about the prediction that novelists in the future will not be able to make a living. Your favourite writer, Roth, as Auster says, has been doom-mongering for over 40 years about the future of the novel. On this issue, I hope Auster is right.

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