Paul Auster, in an interview with the Paris Review, 2003
So many strange things have happened to me in my life, so many unexpected and improbable events, I’m no longer certain that I know what reality is anymore. All I can do is talk about the mechanics of reality, to gather evidence about what goes on in the world and try to record it as faithfully as I can. I’ve used that approach in my novels. It’s not a method so much as an act of faith: to present things as they really happen, not as they’re supposed to happen or as we’d like them to happen. Novels are fictions, of course, and therefore they tell lies (in the strictest sense of the term), but through those lies every novelist attempts to tell the truth about the world. Taken together, the little stories in The Red Notebook present a kind of position paper on how I see the world. The bare-bones truth about the unpredictability of experience. There’s not a shred of the imaginary in them. There can’t be. You make a pact with yourself to tell the truth and you’d rather cut off your right arm than break that promise. Interestingly enough, the literary model I had in mind when I wrote those pieces was the joke. The joke is the purest, most essential form of storytelling. Every word has to count.