Here is a review of Here and Now: Letters (2008-11), which gathers a correspondence between two friends: Paul Auster and JM Coetzee.
For potential pen pals, these two famous writers might seem at first an unlikely pairing. Auster, the younger by seven years, is an enthusiast, or certainly I’ve always thought of him that way: his fascination with coincidences and odd circumstances; his bottomless bag of anecdotes; his championing of out-of-the-way books and films that always end up being very good. Meanwhile Coetzee, the Nobel Prize-winning South African, seems more of a skeptic, a fastidious thinker and uncompromising moralist, who strips away social and political conventions in search of an ethics of essential experience. Yet whatever their differences, real or perceived, what quickly becomes clear in the pages of “Here and Now” is that they have far more in common than not.
They both love sports, for example, and the fact that they don’t love precisely the same sports, or love them for precisely the same reasons, is largely why they have so much to say to each other about them. Discussing the nature of sports’ appeal, Auster proposes they are “a kind of performance art.” Coetzee responds that his interest in sports is “ethical rather than aesthetic,” having to do with “the need for heroes that sports satisfy.”