Private: Paul Auster: anti-Bush reader and songwriter

Last Saturday’s London Times featured a piece on Paul Auster and his loathing for the Bush administration. Usually reluctant to discuss his novels-in-progress, Auster read the “unpublished opening pages of what will be his tenth novel” for last month’s Downtown for Democracy event. James Bone of the Times reports:

Titled The Brooklyn Follies, it began: “I was looking for a great place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn.”

Only near-fury could propel the author into such an act of recklessness. In conversation at the well appointed Brooklyn townhouse he shares with his novelist-wife Siri Hustvedt, he confides that this year’s US election has whipped him up into a lather. “I am burning with passion about this whole campaign,” he growls. “For me, it feels almost like a matter of life and death for Americans that we get Bush out of office.” This is Auster, the poet, translator, novelist, essayist, editor, screenwriter, radio personality and film director, in a new incarnation: intellectual “engage”.

To prove the point, he slides a CD into the impressive hi-fi console in his parlour. From the speakers comes the rasping voice of his local French cafe owner belting out a song Auster wrote on the outbreak of the Iraq war. (It can be downloaded at Called the King George Blues, its harsh melody and biting lyrics make it sound like a number from The Threepenny Opera sung by a male Lotte Lenya.

The fat men are in charge

The thin men take the barge

To Hell

To Hell

To Hell.