Life · Paul Auster

Most lives vanish #PaulAuster #TheBrooklynFollies

Joyce and I hadn’t reached the December of our lives, but there was no question that May was well behind us. What we were together was an afternoon in mid to late October, one of those bright fall days with a vivid blue sky above, a gusty nip in the air, and a million leaves still clinging to the branches – most of them brown, but with enough golds and reds and yellows left to make you want to stay outdoors as long as you can.


I was no one. Eventually, we all die, and when our bodies are carried off  and buried in the ground, only our friends and families will know we are gone. Our deaths wouldn’t be announced on radio or television. There wouldn’t be any obituaries in The New York Times. No books would be written about us. That is an honor reserved for the powerful and the famous, for the exceptionally talented, but who bothers to publish biographies of the ordinary, the unsung, the workaday people we pass on the street and barely take the time to notice?

Most lives vanish. A person dies, and little by little all traces of that life disappear. An inventor survives in his inventions, an architect survives in his buildings, but most people leave behind no monuments or lasting achievements: a shelf of photograph albums, a fifth-grade report card, a bowling trophy, an ashtray filched from a Florida hotel room on the final morning of some dimly remembered vacation. A few objects, a few documents, and a smattering of impressions made on other people. Those people invariably tell stories about the dead person, but more often than not dates are scrambled, facts are left out, and the truth becomes increasingly distorted, and when those people die in their turn, most of the stories vanish with them.

Paul Auster – The Brooklyn Follies

Life · Paul Auster

Con men & rascals

-Con men and tricksters run the world. Rascals rule. And do you know why?

-Tell me, Master. I’m all ears.

-Because they’re hungrier than we are. Because they know what they want. Because they believe in life more than we do.

-Speak for yourself, Socrates. If I wasn’t so hungry, I wouldn’t be carrying around this giant gut.

-You love life, Tom, but you don’t believe in it.


Think of Jacob and Esau. Remember them? The bad guy wins, and God doesn’t punish him. It doesn’t seem right. 

-Of course it does. Jacob had the spark of life in him, and Esau was a dumbbell. If you’re going to choose one of them to lead your people, you’ll want the fighter, the one with cunning and wit, the one with the energy to beat the odds and come out on top. You choose the strong and clever over the weak and kind.

-That’s pretty brutal stuff, Nathan. Take your argument one step further, and the next thing you’ll be telling me is that Stalin should be revered as a great man.

– Stalin was a thug, a psychotic murderer. I’m talking about the instinct for survival Tom, the will to live. Give me a wily rascal over a pious sap any day of the week. He might not always play by the rules, but he’s got spirit. And when you find a man with spirit, there’s still some hope for the world.

Paul Auster-The Brooklyn Follies


Life · Paul Auster

Life #PaulAuster

“When you’ve lived as long as I have, you tend to think you’ve heard everything, that there’s nothing left that can shock you anymore. You grow a little complacent about your so-called knowledge of the world, and then, every once in a while, something comes along that jolts you out of your smug cocoon of superiority, that reminds you all over again that you don’t understand the first thing about life.”


“Existence was bigger than just life. It was everyone’s life all together, and even if you lived in Buffalo, New York and had never been more than ten miles from home, you were part of the puzzle, too. It didn’t matter how small your life was.”


“Life got in the way — two years in the army, work, marriage, family responsibilities, the need to earn more and more money, all the muck that bogs us down when we don’t have the balls to stand up for ourselves — but I had never lost my interest in books.”

Paul Auster – The Brooklyn Follies