In a new essay in The New Yorker, the sometimes great James Wood takes on one of America’s best-known “postmodern” writers, Mr. Paul Auster. He doesn’t like what he finds. I’ll let you read the full article, which is available for free online, but the gist of it is that Wood considers Auster’s basic language slack and derivative for no reason, and his juxtaposition of realist narrative framing and po-mo legerdemain to be tiresome:
Auster . . . wants both the emotional credibility of conventional realism and a frisson of postmodern wordplay . . . What Auster often gets instead is the worst of both worlds: fake realism and shallow skepticism.
Similar things have been said about Wes Anderson, with equal justification. Still, I personally like Auster’s New York Trilogy a lot, and I am consistently charmed by Smoke, a film (starring Harvey Keitel!) for which he wrote the screenplay. But judge for thyself, gentle reader.