Here and Now: Letters (2008-2011)

Here and Now: Letters (2008-2011)

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by Paul Auster, J. M. Coetzee
     
 

The high-spirited correspondence between New York Times bestselling author Paul Auster and Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee

Although Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee had been reading each other’s books for years, the two writers did not meet until February 2008. Not long after, Auster received a letter from Coetzee, suggesting they begin exchanging

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Overview

The high-spirited correspondence between New York Times bestselling author Paul Auster and Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee

Although Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee had been reading each other’s books for years, the two writers did not meet until February 2008. Not long after, Auster received a letter from Coetzee, suggesting they begin exchanging letters on a regular basis and, “God willing, strike sparks off each other.”

Here and Now is the result of that proposal: the epistolary dialogue between two great writers who became great friends. Over three years their letters touched on nearly every subject, from sports to fatherhood, film festivals to incest, philosophy to politics, from the financial crisis to art, death, family, marriage, friendship, and love.

Their correspondence offers an intimate and often amusing portrait of these two men as they explore the complexities of the here and now and is a reflection of two sharp intellects whose pleasure in each other’s friendship is apparent on every page.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Michael Dirda
Here and Now might be described as snack food for serious readers. In its pages, two fine novelists discuss friendship, sports, the writing life, politics, cellphones, Samuel Beckett, computers, incest, the letter K, Israel, favorite films, vicious reviewers, old age, perfectionism and much else…This is civilized discourse between two cultivated and sophisticated men. Not much of what they say is really new or surprising, but it's a pleasure to be in their company.
From the Publisher
“[A] civilized discourse between two cultivated and sophisticated men…A pleasure to be in their company.”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post.

“These two famous writers might seem at first an unlikely pairing…[but] as a series of collaborative inquiries and an extended meditation on the processes of friendship, the book has something substantive to offer.”—The New York Times Book Review

"Here and Now is akin to eavesdropping on a dazzling, extended dinner conversation between two intelligent and substantive minds... A very appealing, human portrait of these two writers."—Bookpage 

“A genial, often riveting exchange. Amiable and revealing missives from two remarkable minds.”—Kirkus Reviews

“What keeps us reading is not the brilliance of the minds – though that feature is generously on offer as well – but the warmth, unpretentiousness, and honesty that emerges from these pages…An invigorating and deeply engaging look at two literary greats, as we’ve never seen them before.”—thestar.com

“A striking portrait of two great friends…the result of Auster and Coetzee’s exchange is nothing short of witty, sharp and thought-provoking, and offers a fascinating look into the minds of two of the 20th century’s greatest writers.”—Malibu Magazine

Praise for J. M. Coetzee

“Many, this reviewer among them, would consider [Coetzee] the greatest living novelist in English.” —The New York Times Book Review

 
"Coetzee may turn out to be one of the last great novelists, exalted by the intensity of his self-awareness and his willingness to make his home in a spiritual and intellectual impasse of which few of his contemporaries were even aware."—The Nation 

“South Africa’s most brilliant novelist . . . challenges us to doubt our preconceived notions not only of love but of truth itself.” —The Seattle Times

"Coetzee's signature brilliance...A mixture of penetrating insight and brittle wit that forces our attention on common terrors we don't want to think about."—The Washington Post

Praise for Paul Auster

“A writer of lean, genre-tinged novels whose unaffected prose belies their philosophical complexity….He's also one of our most playful novelists, a lover of narrative labyrinths on par with Borges, to whom he has often been compared.”—The Washington Post

 
"Paul Auster is one of those sages with confounding talent—confounding for one because he's simply that good... He belongs among Vonnegut, Roth, and DeLillo.”—The Daily Beast

Library Journal
Can you imagine a conversation between these two great writers, the sharp, cerebral Auster and the Nobel prize-winning Coetzee? Here is a conversation, a collection of the correspondence they began shortly after meeting in 2008. Your literati will love.
Kirkus Reviews
A genial, often riveting exchange of letters between American novelist Auster (Winter Journal, 2010, etc.) and the South African (now an Australian citizen) Nobel laureate Coetzee (Scenes from Provincial Life, 2012, etc.). Although Coetzee, 72, is seven years older than Auster, the two writers and friends have many things in common--a fascination with sports (not always the same ones), liberal politics, a sadness about the decline of the book, a love of travel and language, admiration for their spouses and a willingness to respond thoughtfully and respectfully to issues the other correspondent raises. There are some features missing that readers will expect: an introduction explaining the genesis of their friendship and the idea for the publication; an explanation of why the letters stopped (or have they stopped?); annotations. But the bounties cancel cavils. Both acknowledge the importance of admiration in friendship, an observation that leads them into a recurring discussion about sports. Auster writes powerfully (here and elsewhere) about baseball; Coetzee enjoys tennis and writes admiringly of Roger Federer. The letters are not heavily literary. There are some discussions of Beckett, Dostoyevsky and Derrida, but nothing too cerebral. Auster muses about how critics jumped him for his portrayal of an older man's sexual affair with a 17-year-old in Sunset Park but had little to say about the incest in his Invisible. Coetzee speculates that American poetry has declined; Auster effectively and respectfully counters. There are also quotidian concerns--travel plans, food, sleep habits, etc. Auster periodically raves about his wife, writer Siri Hustvedt, and talks a little about the writing of Winter Journal. The authors also discuss films (a passion for both), and we learn that Auster is a bit of a Luddite--he uses a typewriter and has no cellphone, and the writers exchanged many of these letters via fax machine. Amiable and revealing missives from two remarkable minds.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670026661
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/07/2013
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.34(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“[A] civilized discourse between two cultivated and sophisticated men…A pleasure to be in their company.”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post.

“These two famous writers might seem at first an unlikely pairing…[but] as a series of collaborative inquiries and an extended meditation on the processes of friendship, the book has something substantive to offer.”—The New York Times Book Review

"Here and Now is akin to eavesdropping on a dazzling, extended dinner conversation between two intelligent and substantive minds... A very appealing, human portrait of these two writers."—Bookpage 

“A genial, often riveting exchange. Amiable and revealing missives from two remarkable minds.”—Kirkus Reviews

“What keeps us reading is not the brilliance of the minds – though that feature is generously on offer as well – but the warmth, unpretentiousness, and honesty that emerges from these pages…An invigorating and deeply engaging look at two literary greats, as we’ve never seen them before.”—thestar.com

“A striking portrait of two great friends…the result of Auster and Coetzee’s exchange is nothing short of witty, sharp and thought-provoking, and offers a fascinating look into the minds of two of the 20th century’s greatest writers.”—Malibu Magazine

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Meet the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of The New York Trilogy and many other critically acclaimed novels. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2006. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

J. M. Coetzee is the author of twenty books, which have been translated into many languages. He is the first author to be awarded the Booker Prize twice: first for Life & Times of Michael K and then for Disgrace. In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. A native of South Africa, he now lives in Australia.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Brooklyn, New York
Date of Birth:
February 3, 1947
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
B.A., M.A., Columbia University, 1970

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