Var, France; Berkeley, Brooklyn, etc: 1973-1982.
4to and smaller. ‘No one has ever given me such a boost’. Fine Item #324394
Correspondence from poet and novelist Paul Auster to poet Charles Simic early in Auster’s career, evolving from an initial formal typed letter, expressing admiration and seeking a contribution to Living Hand, to a steady and genial exchange of news and thoughts on poetry and life.
a) Typed Letter, signed, writing from Var, undated but 1973, “working this year as custodian of a farm in southern France”, discussing his interest in Simic’s poetry, “your work has become very close to me … a similar attitude toward what kinds of energies should be expended in the making of a poem … I consider you a true ally”; conveying a copy of Living Hand 1 (not present), and inviting Simic to send material for the magazine.
b) Autograph Letter, signed, Var, postmarked 15 January 1974, reporting that his first book, Unearth, will be out in the spring. “I did make a package for you the other day of a more recent and quite a bit longer manuscript, a book called Still Lives … I sent it off by slow bot, and I’m sorry it will take so long to get to you — but I am really moneyless at the moment, and simply couldn’t manage to send it air mail.” Auster notes the differences in their voices but sees “many parallel paths.” Discusses a possible visit, and notes “we are leaving at the end of June”.
c) Autograph Letter, signed, 3 pages, [New York,] 5 August 1974, “I have been walking on air ever since I read your letter last week. … I am overwhelmed: happy, encouraged, so completely gladdened by your response … No one has ever given me such a boost.” Auster reports returning to New York “after 3-1/2 years in France, readjusting has been a little hectic.”
d) Autograph Note, signed, New York, postmarked 3 September 1975, in part: “We spent some time in California last month, and I found Berkeley refreshing — much better than expected.” With envelope.
e) Autograph Letter, signed, 2 pages, [New York,] 26 Feb. 1976: mentions “re-submitting my book to Wesleyan … If something good comes of it — fine. But I will try not to think of it one way or the other.” Discusses current work, “Lydia [Davis] and I are still whacking away at the Sartre translation, with the end probably coming into sight … we won’t be able to leave for California until the publisher has read through the M.S. and approved it.”
f) Autograph Letter, signed, 2 pages, Berkeley, 15 May 1976: “Yes, we are eating well — magnificently in fact. … But then again, we didn}t come out here to fast. … Otherwise, my work goes on. New poems, and also, something that surprised me, a quite long play, that I’m just finishing up now. I have a whole bunch of articles hanging over my head.”
g) Autograph Note, signed, Stanfordville, New York, postmarked 11 Aug. 1977. Postcard, “we’re still settling in … Work progresses slowly, steadily.”
h) Autograph Letter, signed, 2 pages, Barrytown, New York, 9 Sept. 1977. “I find myself sitting in Barrytown, the recenlty appointed ‘managing editor’ of George Q.’s Station Hill Press. So much money was raised that this is a real job with pay — and since the project interests me, I thought, why not. I think some good books might come out of it.” Auster solicits a contribution from Simic and reports on other matters. “No one ever told me how much pure joy there is in having a kid.” With envelope.
i) Autograph Note, signed, Brooklyn, 23 March 1981. Postcard, mentions an upcoming visit, “I’ll help you teach a class if you like.”
j) Autograph Note, signed, Brooklyn, postmarked 17 Sept. 1984. Postcard, “Your beautiful book arrived today, the one with my name in the first six letters of the title …”
k) Autograph Note, signed, undated, on a photocopy of a chain letter for poets.
Though the Wesleyan edition of poems by Auster never appeared, this is an interesting correspondence, with several substantial letters documenting artistic empathy and friendship.
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