It won't be a surprise to some that I'm a big lover of Paul Auster. After all, in his work there are loud echoes of my most favourite modernist master (Auster met Beckett in the late 1970's). But Auster says a lot more than Beckett. And while Beckett marvels at the meaningfulness in silence and our Schopenhaurian persistance in the face of an inevitable fate, Auster revels in that space where fiction and life collide and intertwine and where chance is a romantic, yet wiley, companion.
I read the New York Trilogy as an undergrad and picked it off my bookshelf again before my New York trip. I just finished last night. Auster exhibits a philosophical approach to story-telling, but these stories are written in the genre of spy novels. Don deLillo has said of him "Paul's accomplishment is building a traditional storytelling architecture with sharply modern interiors." If you want the best of continental and American, Auster's a good place to start.
Sometimes when I finish a book I actually miss the characters - they've become so real to me. And sometimes, I'm consumed by the ideas presented and toy with those ideas for years to come. Both make for good reading experiences. But, in my favourites (Beckett, Kundera, David Mitchell and Auster) both are moved, it's a complete head-and-heart reading experience.
And not to be a complete obsessive, but don't you think Auster as he ages is looking ever so slightly like Sam?