Monday, February 13, 2012

Smoke: Paul Auster's Use of Coincidence

    Smoke, the film adaptation of the short news article "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story," showcases the great multitude of stories that reside within each and every person and brings forth the question: are these stories true? Whether or not the story is of truth, however, may not completely be of the matter.  What is most important is if you believe in it.
    The author Paul Auster has a deep fondness for coincidence.  This is shown within both the film and the short story.  For instance, in the article, it is highly coincidental that Auggie Wren has a perfect Christmas story for the writer. (However, this can partially be attributed to the fact that Auggie Wren is [possibly] lying, therefore creating the perfect story, rather than relaying it.)  In the short film, Auggie Wren happens to have a picture of the writer's deceased wife.  This serves as a device for us to connect up to and understand the appeal and warmth of Auggie Wren.  Additionally, this is also obviously the authors love for coincidence being played out.
    Aside from the narrative examples of coincidence in Paul Auster's works, the style of both the film and short story showcase coincidence and irony.  The short story is literally the article that the writer character set out to write, thus furthering this process of stories being captured and forever known, regardless of there validity. The film tells the story in "chapters"-- each chapter clearly acknowledging the ark of a specific character's story.  This further emphasizes the feeling that there are many stories to be heard, and many faces to discover (just like in the pictures.)
    In both the short story and the film, the writer has a moment of doubting the truth behind the Christmas story of Auggie Wren.  However, this is quickly replaced with acceptance.  This moment of doubt is a clear representation of Paul Auster's questioning of reality versus fiction.  It seems as though the author implies that we should always accept a story that does no real over all harm, but rather, brings joy.


  1. Good job Kira I enjoyed reading this. I especially like the last point about just accepting the story. I have something kind of similar in post although it is not as well done. I also liked how mixed in some points with the summary so it doesn't feel like the movie/ story re-written. I also like how you have it laid out the post with an intro, then the summary also main points, then having the conclusion paragraph with one of the most or the most important points. Good job Ms. Bursky!

  2. Awesome post Kira! Appreciate the added pictures!

    I like your point a lot about each character having their doubt about the truth, I hadn't thought of that before. Your post is very Christmas story-esc and I think your idea about accepting a story for the joy it brings is very valid and present in the film/story!

  3. Kira - You have some great insights and point out specific examples of how "coincidence" is an aspect of Auster's writing (both in the film and short story). There are many other examples you could have brought up (the mop/sink overflowing onto the cigars, for example) but I appreciate that you pointed out how the fact that Paul's wife is captured in the film helps us as an audience connect with Auggie (the fact that he spares the kid with the cigar incident also makes us like him more). We trust him, so in the end we want to believe his Christmas story, or at least we want to believe in the spirit of the story. Whether or not it's true, I could see Auggie trying to bring some joy to that old lady.

    I would have liked to see you try to organize your whole post in a more understandable way - you start by bringing up the point about stories and truth vs fiction, and you come back to that, but then you go to a completely different point to bring up "coincidence" rather than tying that in to how it makes the stories seem more real or more false (which I think you could do, actually). It just kind of felt like two different central ideas that weren't really connected.

    But content-wise you have some points!