• Burning Boy

  • The Life and Work of Stephen Crane
  • By: Paul Auster
  • Narrated by: Paul Auster
  • Length: 35 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (39 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

Booker Prize-shortlisted and New York Times best-selling author Paul Auster's comprehensive, 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 listen 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 listening experiences - the dramatic biography of a brilliant writer as only another literary master could tell it.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

©2021 Paul Auster (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

2022, L.A. Times Book Prize - Winner

2022, L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist

2021, Boston Globe Best Books of the Year

What listeners say about Burning Boy

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It’s time to re-read “Red Badge”

Let us remember “Red Badge of Courage” by re-reading it. Stephen Crane’s life is skillfully interwoven with long excerpts of his writings. He was a talented journalist and author of fiction and nonfiction. A sad and productive life. The reading by the author is sharp and clear. Worth all the hours.

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Wow, Crane Is Great!

This is one of the best books I’ve listened to for ages. I was so sad when Crane died as I knew he would. I really appreciate how much of Crane’s work is shared in this book.

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Paul Auster reads Paul Auster.

This was an hour-by-hour account of Stephen Crane's inner and outer lives. Take your time with it.

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Long but wonderful!

Paul Auster tells us he wrote (and recorded) this book for those who don’t know Stephen Crane. This is not me! I came across some of his poems in an 8th grade poetry anthology in an English class in the mid 1960s and they grabbed me and have never left me. Some time after that I was assigned The Red Badge of Courage which also got under my skin. Somewhat later an older brother read me The Open Boat which was a punch in my solar plexus that I can still feel. Years after that as a secondary school history teacher, who also was asked to teach a sophomore English class, I taught Red Badge which deepened my admiration for Crane and that work. And for decades now I’ve had an expanding collection of Crane poems in my head that I meditate on and sometimes make their way into things I say in the Quaker Meetings I go to. But for all that I already knew, this audiobook introduced me to so much, like The Monster, that I knew nothing of.

Paul Auster has provided me with so much context to better understand and appreciate the things that I have loved about Crane’s work and where he fits into 20th century literature and culture. Taking this audiobook on is not for the faint of heart or ear because of Burning Boy’s length and depth, but for those unfamiliar with Crane you will get everything you need.

Stephen Crane is one of the most bluntly honest modern writers that I have lived with and has shaped my understanding of the world. Auster has clearly put tremendous effort into making it clear why Crane matters to us in the 21st century and has written a book that is worth all the effort it takes to read, or listen to.

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Compelling, engaging, surprising

I heard a small snippet on NPR about this book and the author. I found myself immediately curious about what I would learn about Stephen Crane and his writing. I was not disappointed. Mr. Auster has done extensive research on Stephen Crane’s life, his influence on his peers, and the times he lived through. Mr. Auster has also obviously read every word written by Mr. Crane more than once. The way that he weaves together Mr. Crane’s bibliography with his biography reveals the strong interplay between the two and the surprising breadth of tone and subject undertaken by Mr. Crane. By sharing his joy of this other author’s words, images, and different writing styles, it made me want to delve in and read everything I could get my hands on so that I could enjoy it too. I have already gathered several volumes of Mr. Crane’s work and look forward to this new exploration. I would never have undertaken it if it were not for this wonderful book. Also, I really loved Mr. Auster’s reading voice and style. I highly recommend this book.

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Dull

Hard to come up words here, just a dull story unless you're a huge fan. Waste of credit.