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Paul Auster: Burning Boy

Paul Auster was a true giant of American literature. Acclaimed for his best-selling works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, including The New York Trilogy, Invisible, and The Brooklyn Follies, Auster wrote complex and daring tales of humans experiencing, anticipating or searching for something lost, something they are struggling to comprehend.

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In his 2021 book, Burning Boy, he turned his eye to the 19th-century bad boy of American literature, Stephen Crane. Crane is known for popularising American naturalism, a literary movement that has influenced generations of writers (including Auster himself). But he was as daring off the page as he was on it.

Throughout his short life, Crane cavorted from one high-stakes situation to the next: from engaging in political journalism that disrupted the course of the 1892 presidential campaign, to entering a common-law marriage with the proprietress of Jacksonville’s most elegant bawdyhouse, to surviving a shipwreck that nearly drowned him, and eventually relocating to England, where Joseph Conrad became his closest friend and Henry James wept over his tragic, early death.

In November 2021, Auster joined host Corrie Perkin for a conversation about Burning Boy and the nature of creative legacy. What are the questions one master chooses to ask of another? And what is there to learn from a life lived so bright it burned?

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