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Paul Auster: Burning Boy

Read Thursday, 14 Oct 2021
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‘I did have the feeling that I was an old man talking to younger people in this book. Not in a classroom, but around a dinner table and sharing my insight and enthusiasm for this writer and his work.’

In Burning Boy, celebrated novelist Paul Auster tells the extraordinary story of Stephen Crane, best known as the author of The Red Badge of Courage, who transformed American literature through an avalanche of original short stories, novellas, poems, journalism, and war reportage before his life was cut short by tuberculosis at age twenty-eight.

Auster’s probing account of this singular life tracks Crane as he rebounds from one perilous situation to the next: A controversial article written at twenty disrupts the course of the 1892 presidential campaign, a public battle with the New York police department over the false arrest of a prostitute effectively exiles him from the city, a star-crossed love affair with an unhappily married uptown girl tortures him, a common-law marriage to the proprietress of Jacksonville’s most elegant bawdyhouse endures, a shipwreck results in his near drowning, he withstands enemy fire to send dispatches from the Spanish-American War, and then he relocates to England, where Joseph Conrad becomes his closest friend and Henry James weeps over his tragic, early death.

In Burning Boy, Auster not only puts forth an immersive read about an unforgettable life but also, casting a dazzled eye on Crane’s astonishing originality and productivity, provides uniquely knowing insight into Crane’s creative processes to produce the rarest of reading experiences – the dramatic biography of a brilliant writer as only another literary master could tell it.

To join Auster for a conversation about Burning Boy and the nature of creative legacy click here.

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