Paul Auster, . . D.A.P., $17.95 (72pp) ISBN 978-1-891024-32-0

Aspiring writers are often fascinated by the processes and the tools of the professional; in this elegant art book collaboration between writer Auster and painter Messer, they can get a detailed, expressionistic perspective on the old-fashioned machine Auster uses to get the words out of his head and onto the page: a vintage manual Olympia typewriter. "Since... 1974, every word I have written has been typed out on that machine," writes Auster in the essay that accompanies the drawings and paintings reproduced in this lovely volume. Though very short, the text is revealing of the author's unique sensibility: "Like it or not, I realized we [Auster and the Olympia] had the same past. As time went on, I came to understand we had the same future." The starring attraction here is the art. Primarily done in oils, the works reveal Messer's obsession with Auster's typewriter. Most of the depictions are head-on, sometimes with backgrounds that reflect the writer and his New York milieu. One version is backed by a shelf of Auster's works, another by the Brooklyn Bridge, and one haunting image shows the lower Manhattan skyline as seen from Brooklyn, with the still-standing towers of the World Trade Center prominently featured. The novelist himself is portrayed in several works, the best of which (Maestro) shows Auster conjuring the keys off of the machine and into a swirl of floating letters. This is an undeniably odd but captivating book, in which Messer, in Auster's words, turns "an inanimate object into a being with personality and a presence in the world." (Oct.)