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book cover of True Tales of American Life

True Tales of American Life

(2001)
An anthology of stories edited by

 
 
True Tales of American Life is a collection derived from a project launched by Paul Auster on US National Public Radio. Auster credits his wife with the idea of having listeners send in their own short pieces of true-life writing, from which Auster would choose half a dozen to be read on air each week. But, for all the success of the radio programme, as Auster writes, "you can't hold the words in your hands". Here, then, is the fully "holdable" book. Auster has selected 179 pieces from the 4,000 plus he had received by October 2000. Split fairly evenly between male and female authors, with an age range of 20 to "pushing 90", the collection revels in its multifariousness: the contributors include "a postman, a merchant seaman, a trolley-bus driver, a gas-and-electric-meter reader, a restorer of player pianos, a crime-scene cleaner", and so on. The biographical detail is relevant because inevitably most of these true stories draw on the rawest of raw materials, the writers' own experience.

Auster wanted "true stories that sounded like fiction". In an age where talk shows (think Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake) demand that we tell our life stories as fiction--and encourage us to live our lives as fiction--it's a particularly timely and potent meeting place of reality and art, or in Auster's words, "an archive of facts, a museum of American reality" in fictional form. Unlike Auster, who regularly has to wade through 60 of these tales in a day to meet his weekly radio deadlines, the regular reader can dip in and out. And at a rate of, say, one story per day, this book will keep you fascinated with (and occasionally horrified at) American's true life tales for just about six months. --Alan Stewart

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Used availability for Paul Auster's True Tales of American Life

Hardback Editions

November 2001 : UK Hardback
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Title: True Tales of American Life
Author(s): Paul Auster
ISBN: 0-571-21050-3 / 978-0-571-21050-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

January 2001 : UK Paperback
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Title: True Tales of American Life
Author(s): Paul Auster
ISBN: 0-571-21070-8 / 978-0-571-21070-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


July 2002 : UK Paperback
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Title: True Tales of American Life
Author(s): Paul Auster
ISBN: 0-571-21463-0 / 978-0-571-21463-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

November 2010 : UK Kindle edition
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Title: True Tales of American Life
Author(s): Paul Auster
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon UK