WordPress daily prompt: Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.
Dear Paul Auster,
I know for a fact you won’t be reading this, and I highly suspect you dislike blogs. I think I read somewhere that you stay right away from the internet. Maybe that’s how you keep writing books. But pretend you were reading this, it would be written just for you.
It’s probably difficult to spot your influence on my fiction, but for a time I feel like I saw the whole world through your eyes. That was a decade ago, when I living in this same suburb I’ve just returned to. I wish my early twenties could have gone on forever, and I suspect you feel much the same. That was the period where I would be walking down the street and find strange letters on the footpath, photographs in parks. I used to spend a lot of time on buses and in the city centre, and seek after coincidences. I was MS Fogg, and I was Nashe.
(There you go, if you want to spot an influence, how about the ending of The Fur? I ripped that right out of Moon Palace, without even realising it. Our protagonists take a long, long walk across the country to complete their coming of age. MS Fogg walked further than Michael. Hey, how about that – Michael Sullivan = MS = MS Fogg – I never saw that before.)
I wonder what conclusions you’ve come to about God. It’s really not apparent from your writing, you know. But then again, I can never pick an atheist from their fiction.
I wonder if you ever feel like the gambler who won? You put everything in life on writing working out. You lived those hungry years on crusts of bread and translation work, were saved by the inheritance from your dead father, but more than that, were saved because of success and because of brilliance. What of those who stake everything on it and it doesn’t pay off?
You already answered that, I suppose, in The Music of Chance – you gamble everything and you lose, you might be imprisoned by some eccentric men and made to build a stone wall, and every time it seems you’re going to get free, your sentence stretches on further.
Anyway, I’m reading Winter Journal at the moment, when I should be reading other things for my thesis. I tried to appreciate every sentence as I read the first pages. A new book from a writer in his sixties: this will only happen so many more times. I really do dread the day you die. I remind myself how old you are every now and again – 65 and counting – and reassure myself that the odds are there’ll be quite a few more yet. But I was thinking Updike had another decade in him, and look what happened to him. I wanted another Rabbit book, I wanted them to go on forever – I’m sure he was thinking about it. On that note, more than anything, I need you to write about MS Fogg again – we learned about the fate of his friend, David Zimmer, but that feels like you were taunting me. Please tell me what happened to old MS!
You don’t know how obsessed I got thinking about the once chance I would have to speak to you – it was at the Adelaide Writers’ Festival, and I lined up with all the bookclub ladies in forty degree heat, and for months I’d been trying to come up with some one-liner which would make you want to be my friend. How pathetic! I got ten seconds in the end, and at least I got to tell you you are my favourite writer. I consoled myself afterwards with the knowledge that it’s probably better the way it is, with the friendship running one way only. It doesn’t get so messy this way.
Yours faithfully, NH.
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