Life · Paul Auster

Yes, I suppose

Yes, I suppose there is something nasty about me at times. But not all the time, and not as a matter of principle.


I had given myself up for dead, and once the tumor had been cut out of me and I’d gone through the debilitating ordeals of radiation treatment and chemo, once I’d suffered the long bouts of nausea and dizziness, the loss of hair, the loss of will, the loss of job, the loss of wife, it was difficult for me to imagine how to go on.


That’s what happens to you when you are in a hospital. They take off your clothes, put you in one of those humiliating gowns, and suddenly you stop being yourself. You become the person who inhabits your body, and what you are now is the sum total of that body’s failures. To be diminished in such a way is to lose all right to privacy. When the doctors and nurses come in and ask you questions, you have to answer them. They want to keep you alive, and only a person who wouldn’t want to live would give them false answers.


So Tom went to work for Harry Brightman, little realizing that Harry Brightman did not exist. The name was no more than a name, and the life that belonged to it had never been lived.


I felt obliged to destroy the spell he was living under, to demystify the object of his longing and turn her into what she really was: a happily married Brooklyn housewife with two kids. Not some saintly, unapproachable gooddess, but a flesh-and-blood woman who ate and shat and fucked -just like everyone else.

Paul Auster – The Brooklyn Follies


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