Auster. Attica. Agamemnon.

For 26 days and from A to Z, the Masthead is publishing three things—the first three things—that come to mind…a reader’s word association if you will. This is day one.


Maybe it’s ‘cuz Auster’s got GAME. Paul Auster’s best novels have an MC Escher bent to them but more than this, they’re accessible.

What I mean is, technique is usually a co-occurring element to his plotlines so that at the same time he’s toying with our perception of characters and places and events, with what, indeed, we’re actually reading (the man’s poster child for meta fiction), the story is still  progressing two steps ahead of us as if it were being egested by our own constantly evolving understanding of the story itself.

In recapping my 2017 reads, I had written of Auster’s most recent release, 4321, that “the architecture of that novel is sound” and that “Auster had a clear vision for his work, he took huge risks and he still made something saleable.” I still feel this way. His work is far from the high-brow’s literary gambit, and I think that’s what makes Auster stand out as an enduring author: chicken and the egg, it’s hard to tell with Auster if the story or the style came first, but we’ll know it’s his doing because it all falls into place like the kinesis of an Andreas Wannerstedt installation.


Attica and also A Time to Die (boy does that sound sinister).

By Attica I mean the four-day prison riot that took place in September 1971 and that NYT reporter Tom Wicker recounted in his book A Time to Die. Wicker was inside the Attica Correctional Facility when more than half the inmates revolted and took 45 staff hostage. Recommended if you enjoyed Truman Capote’s Cold Blood, Bernstein and Woodward’s All the President’s Men or if you like your Sunday newspaper where all the best of in-depth journalism lands.


Ah yes, the king of Mycenae who sacrificed his daughter to appease the goddess Artemis and turn the tide of war in favor of the Achaeans before coming home and himself being slaughtered by his wife’s lover Aegisthus.  The classical shit is good.

But also, Agamemnon’s just got his hands in everything. We live every facet, every repercussion, of the Trojan War through him. Homer’s Iliad, Colm Tóibín’s House of Names and a few selections from history are all I have on him, but I want a little more.

I blame the ship of Theseus for putting this guy top of mind. The paradox, I mean; the one that asks whether it’s a new ship at the end, or at what point it becomes a new ship, if every part of the ship is replaced piece by piece over time. Had asked my boyfriend about it as we walked a trail near his apartment—people coming onto the trail and leaving it with every loop we made, a continuous turnover. Tangentially it made me think of the paradox, and I guess it put me into an ancient frame of mind these past few days since I’ve also felt nudged to pick up the Lysistrata and read more from Plato.

Happy reading!

– Day 1 of 26: Auster. Attica. Agamemnon –


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