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Publisher's Summary

From Booker Prize-shortlisted and New York Times best-selling author Paul Auster, a landmark biography of the great American writer Stephen Crane.

With Burning Boy, celebrated novelist Paul Auster tells the extraordinary story of Stephen Crane, best known as the author of The Red Badge of Courage, who transformed American literature through an avalanche of original short stories, novellas, poems, journalism, and war reportage before his life was cut short by tuberculosis at age 28.

Auster’s probing account of this singular life tracks Crane as he rebounds from one perilous situation to the next: A controversial article written at 20 disrupts the course of the 1892 presidential campaign; a public battle with the New York police department over the false arrest of a prostitute effectively exiles him from the city; a star-crossed love affair with an unhappily married uptown girl tortures him; a common-law marriage to the proprietress of Jacksonville’s most elegant bawdyhouse endures; a shipwreck results in his near drowning; he withstands enemy fire to send dispatches from the Spanish-American War; and then he relocates to England, where Joseph Conrad becomes his closest friend and Henry James weeps over his tragic, early death.

In Burning Boy, Auster not only puts forth an immersive story about an unforgettable life but also, casting a dazzled eye on Crane’s astonishing originality and productivity, provides uniquely knowing insight into Crane’s creative processes to produce the rarest of experiences - the dramatic biography of a brilliant writer as only another literary master could tell it.

©2021 Paul Auster (P)2021 McClelland & Stewart

Critic Reviews

"Paul Auster's all-in obsessive engagement with the 19th-century bad boy of American literature, Stephen Crane, is brilliant and beautiful. Auster's mastery of the historical context, his writerly, troubled, imaginative insights into Crane's character and the analysis of the works, all superb. And the prose is beautiful - lucid and clear, and yet lyrical and personal. I was deeply moved by his portrayal of Crane's relationships with Conrad and James and other writers of the time and Crane's common law wife, Cora, and his judgmental, bourgeois older brother, William. And his delicacy regarding Crane's other relations with women. All of it. What a story! This is more than a novel, more than a biography, more than a book of critical analysis. This is a significant work of literature. And the most profound homage of one writer to another that I've ever read." (Russel Banks)

"Burning Boy is an authoritative study of Stephen Crane, whose innovative narrative and poetic techniques foreshadow modern American literature. Paul Auster, one of our preeminent novelists, explores Crane's psyche with unerring insight and freshly interprets Crane's genius. This book will revitalize interest in the most important American author of his generation." (Paul Sorrentino, author of Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire)

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