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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Paul Auster
Hand To Mouth
Penguin Books

Rating: 7/10 ?


September 11, 2002
In the last year I have begun to pick up books for the oddest reasons, anything from the author's name to the publishing date. This time it was because of the picture on the cover. For some reason I'm a sucker for books with tattered looking photographs on the cover. And I suppose the title had a lot to do with it, a subconscious identification on my part with a financially challenged writer. I'm supposedly the later and definitely the former. Unfortunately Penguin replaced the original artwork for this book with a large, scraggly mouth.

Paul Auster has been established for some time now with works like The New York Trilogy, Mr Vertigo, and The Invention of Solitude and this book is an interesting combination of memoirs and a partial reader. The beginning of the book is just as the title would imply - Auster's chronicle of his early years learning the literary ropes - while the latter 2/3 consists of his first works which were never published (the stories of which are told in the first part).

I found the memoirs portion to be extremely enjoyable for the simple reason that I relate very well to his ordeal and his disregard for financial security at the price of personal integrity. The path of his early years wonder everywhere from France to Mexico to an oil tanker to New York, every step taken with one foot in the poor house. During this time he elaborates on his early works which all went unnoticed and unwanted up through his present success.

The rest of the book is an appendix comprised of the unfruitful labors from his youth - the early failures referred to in the title - everything from plays (3 of them) to a card game simulating baseball he invented to a short detective novel. The plays are all entertaining but don't really compare to any of his successful works and I personally find the "Action Baseball" game to be rather, well, dumb. It took a lot more creativity than I have to come up with, granted, but he should have known no one would want to play it. Way too involved. Squeeze Play, his detective story, was published under the pen name "Paul Benjamin" and isn't really half bad. The story was published a number of times but none of them were successful (Auster has no knowledge of the first run selling a single copy).

The work in the appendix is shoddy but Auster fully realizes the point and even pokes fun at them in Hand to Mouth, which, for me, was very good in itself. Although Hand to Mouth isn't much more than a brief autobiography it more than averaged out the self-inflicted agony of the appendix to earn the book a grade of B.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth

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