Paul Auster & Sophie Calle / Leviathan

“At 12.05 p.m., she buys a magazine at the news-stand, located at the corner of the rue de Rivoli and de l’Amiral Coligny, Paris, 1st arrondissement. She is wearing a trenchcoat”

Just finished the Paul Auster novel Leviathan. At times it lacks souplesse, but I love his typical mix of genres – detective, crime, drama – and the darkness of his stories.

In a typical Paul Auster manner, characters in the book gradually slip down a dark road of peculiar events and strange encounters; they face complicated dilemmas that are drenched with moral issues and carry a disturbing sense of inevitability, as if they were meant to take up their burden; to pave new moral paths for times when common sense provides no compass.

An interesting feature of the book is the character of Maria Turner, modelled after French artist Sophie Calle. Her autobiographical work often consists of bizarre and compulsory instructions she lays down on herself. They enable Calle to abandon paved paths and enter unknown territory. In one of her projects – that appears in Leviathan as well – Calle hired a private detective to shadow and photograph her during a period of time (picture above). These disturbing pictures lure the viewer into a parallel and highly paranoia world that bears close resemblance to the actual life of several characters in the book.

I like the work of Calle functioning as backdrop for Leviathan. Her photographs are uncanny and mysterious to me, in the novel however, Auster colours them with dark stories, anecdotes and provides the characters with intriguing features and backgrounds. Together they created the book Double game which comprises several projects of Calle, Leviathan and short stories by Auster.

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