[(review date 14 November 1997) In the following review, Mundy offers unfavorable assessment of Hand to Mouth.]
"We're talking about your life," proclaims a character in Paul Auster's first novel, Squeeze Play. "There's nothing more important than that."
Hand to Mouth left me with the uneasy feeling that it would have been more enjoyable if I'd shared the speaker's selfless priorities. The book is outwardly about Auster's attempts to become a writer and the travails he suffered in realising this cherished ambition. It concludes with three huge appendices: the first reproduces three sub-Beckettian dramas written by the young Auster; the second comprises colour plates of a card game that he was unable to exploit commercially; the third gives us Squeeze Play, a modestly impressive hard-boiled detective novel. After The Red Notebook and Groundwork, this is Auster's third consecutive collection of his juvenilia.