Paul Auster

No form in mind

Paul Auster in conversation with George and Mary Oppen

Left: Paul Auster at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival. Photo by David Shankbone. Right: George and Mary Oppen in the 1970s, photographer unknown. Reproduced by permission of Linda Oppen.

When Paul Auster in 1980 asked to interview his friend George Oppen, the poet agreed, but with a warning. “What worries me,” wrote Oppen, “is the question of whether or not I can say anything that I have not already said.” Auster flew to San Francisco in February 1981 and spent several days with the Oppens. “There were times,” writes Auster, “when [George] had to grope for his words, but there were also moments of blazing wit.” These moments have indeed been captured in this memorable last interview with George Oppen.

Note: When Paul Auster in 1980 asked to interview his friend George Oppen, the poet agreed, but with a warning. “What worries me,” wrote Oppen, “is the question of whether or not I can say anything that I have not already said — And my own condition at this moment which is something alas, very like senility — I am not being very brilliant these days, and I have not written anything since Primitive.” Nevertheless, Auster flew to San Francisco in February 1981 and spent several days at the Oppens’ house on Polk Street recording George and Mary around their kitchen table.

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