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Winter Journal

Winter Journal

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Winter Journal

évaluations:
4/5 (17 évaluations)
Longueur:
236 pages
6 heures
Sortie:
Aug 21, 2012
ISBN:
9780805095562
Format:
Livre

Description

"That is where the story begins, in your body and everything will end in the body as well."
On January 3, 2011, exactly one month before his sixty-fourth birthday, internationally acclaimed novelist Paul Auster sat down and wrote the first entry of Winter Journal, his unorthodox, beautifully wrought examination of his own life, as seen through the history of his body. Auster takes us from childhood to the brink of old age as he summons forth a universe of physical sensation, of pleasures and pains, moving from the awakening of sexual desire as an adolescent to the ever deepening bonds of married love, from meditations on eating and sleeping to the "scalding, epiphanic moment of clarity" in 1978 that set him on a new course as a writer.

Sortie:
Aug 21, 2012
ISBN:
9780805095562
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of 4 3 2 1, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and the New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature. Among his other honors are the Prix Médicis étranger for Leviathan, the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke, and the Premio Napoli for Sunset Park. In 2012, he was the first recipient of the NYC Literary Honors in the category of fiction. He has also been a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions), the PEN/Faulkner Award (The Music of Chance), the Edgar Award (City of Glass), and the Man Booker Prize (4 3 2 1). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Winter Journal - Paul Auster

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Contents

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Begin Reading

Also by Paul Auster

About the Author

Copyright

Preview: The Invention of Solitude

You think it will never happen to you, that it cannot happen to you, that you are the only person in the world to whom none of these things will ever happen, and then, one by one, they all begin to happen to you, in the same way they happen to everyone else.

*   *   *

Your bare feet on the cold floor as you climb out of bed and walk to the window. You are six years old. Outside, snow is falling, and the branches of the trees in the backyard are turning white.

*   *   *

Speak now before it is too late, and then hope to go on speaking until there is nothing more to be said. Time is running out, after all. Perhaps it is just as well to put aside your stories for now and try to examine what it has felt like to live inside this body from the first day you can remember being alive until this one. A catalogue of sensory data. What one might call a phenomenology of breathing.

*   *   *

You are ten years old, and the midsummer air is warm, oppressively warm, so humid and uncomfortable that even as you sit in the shade of the trees in the backyard, sweat is gathering on your forehead.

*   *   *

It is an incontestable fact that you are no longer young. One month from today, you will be turning sixty-four, and although that is not excessively old, not what anyone would consider to be an advanced old age, you cannot stop yourself from thinking about all the others who never managed to get as far as you have. This is one example of the various things that could never happen, but which, in fact, have happened.

*   *   *

The wind in your face during last week’s blizzard. The awful sting of the cold, and you out there in the empty streets wondering what possessed you to leave the house in such a pounding storm, and yet, even as you struggled to keep your balance, there was the exhilaration of that wind, the joy of seeing the familiar streets turned into a blur of white, whirling snow.

*   *   *

Physical pleasures and physical pains. Sexual pleasures first and foremost, but also the pleasures of food and drink, of lying naked in a hot bath, of scratching an itch, of sneezing and farting, of spending an extra hour in bed, of turning your face toward the sun on a mild afternoon in late spring or early summer and feeling the warmth settle upon your skin. Innumerable instances, not a day gone by without some moment or moments of physical pleasure, and yet pains are no doubt more persistent and intractable, and at one time or another nearly every part of your body has been subjected to assault. Eyes and ears, head and neck, shoulders and back, arms and legs, throat and stomach, ankles and feet, not to mention the enormous boil that once sprouted on the left cheek of your ass, referred to by the doctor as a wen, which to your ears sounded like some medieval affliction and prevented you from sitting in chairs for a week.

*   *   *

The proximity of your small body to the ground, the body that belonged to you when you were three and four years old, that is to say, the shortness of the distance between your feet and head, and how the things you no longer notice were once a constant presence and preoccupation for you: the little world of crawling ants and lost coins, of fallen twigs and dented bottle caps, of dandelions and clover. But especially the ants. They are what you remember best. Armies of ants traveling in and out of their powdery hills.

*   *   *

You are five years old, crouched over an anthill in the backyard, attentively studying the comings and goings of your tiny six-legged friends. Unseen and unheard, your three-year-old neighbor creeps up behind you and strikes you on the head with a toy rake. The prongs pierce your scalp, blood flows into your hair and down the back of your neck, and you run screaming into the house, where your grandmother tends to your wounds.

*   *   *

Your grandmother’s words to your mother: Your father would be such a wonderful man—if only he were different.

*   *   *

This morning, waking in the dimness of another January dawn, a scumbled, grayish light seeping into the bedroom, and there is your wife’s face turned toward your face, her eyes closed, still fast asleep, the covers pulled all the way up to her neck, her head the only part of her that is visible, and you marvel at how beautiful she looks, how young she looks, even now, thirty years after you first slept with her, after thirty years of living together under the same roof and sharing the same bed.

*   *   *

More snow falling today, and as you climb out of bed and walk to the window, the branches of the trees in the back garden are turning white. You are sixty-three years old. It occurs to you that there has rarely been a moment during the long journey from boyhood to now when you have not been in love. Thirty years of marriage, yes, but in the thirty years before that, how many infatuations and crushes, how many ardors and pursuits, how many deliriums and mad surges of desire? From the very start of your conscious life, you have been a willing slave of Eros. The girls you loved as a boy, the women you loved as a man, each one different from the others, some round and some lean, some short and some tall, some bookish and some athletic, some moody and some outgoing, some white and some black and some Asian, nothing on the surface ever mattered to you, it was all about the inner light you would detect in her, the spark of singularity, the blaze of revealed selfhood, and that light would make her beautiful to you, even if others were blind to the beauty you saw, and then you would burn to be with her, to be near her, for feminine beauty is something you have never been able to resist. All the way back to your first days of school, the kindergarten class in which you fell for the girl with the long blonde ponytail, and how often were you punished by Miss Sandquist for sneaking off with the little girl you had fallen for, the two of you together in a corner somewhere making mischief, but those punishments meant nothing to you, for you were in love, and you were a fool for love then, just as you are a fool for love now.

*   *   *

The inventory of your scars, in particular the ones on your face, which are visible to you each morning when you look into the bathroom mirror to shave or comb your hair. You seldom think about them, but whenever you do, you understand that they are marks of life, that the assorted jagged lines etched into the skin of your face are letters from the secret alphabet that tells the story of who you are, for each scar is the trace of a healed wound, and each wound was caused by an unexpected collision with the world—that is to say, an accident, or something that need not have happened, since by definition an accident is something that need not happen. Contingent facts as opposed to necessary facts, and the realization as you look into the mirror this morning that all life is contingent, except for the one necessary fact that sooner or later it will come to an end.

*   *   *

You are three and a half, and your twenty-five-year-old pregnant mother has taken you along with her on a shopping expedition to a department store in downtown Newark. She is accompanied by a friend of hers, the mother of a boy who is three and a half as well. At some point, you and your little comrade break away from your mothers and begin running through the store. It is an enormous open space, no doubt the largest room you have ever set foot in, and there is a palpable thrill in being able to run wild through this gargantuan indoor arena. Eventually, you and the boy begin belly-flopping onto the floor and sliding along the smooth surface, sledding without sleds, as it were, and this game proves to be so enjoyable, so ecstatic in the pleasure it produces, that you become more and more reckless, more and more daring in what you are willing to attempt. You reach a part of the store where construction work or repair work is under way, and without bothering to take notice of what obstacles might lie ahead, you belly-flop onto the floor again and sail along the glasslike surface until you find yourself speeding straight toward a wooden carpenter’s bench. With a small twist of your small body, you think you can avoid crashing into the leg of the table that is looming before you, but what you do not realize in the split second you have to shift course is that a nail is jutting from the leg, a long nail low enough to be at the level of your face, and before you can stop yourself, your left cheek is pierced by the nail as you go flying past it. Half your face is torn apart. Sixty years later, you have no memories of the accident. You remember the running and the belly-flopping, but nothing about the pain, nothing about the blood, and nothing about being rushed to the hospital or the doctor who sewed up your cheek. He did a brilliant job, your mother always said, and since the trauma of seeing her firstborn with half his face ripped off never left her, she said it often: something to do with a subtle double-stitching method that kept the damage to a minimum and prevented you from being disfigured for life. You could have lost your eye, she would say to you—or, even more dramatically, You could have been killed. No doubt she was right. The scar has grown fainter and fainter as the years have passed, but it is still there whenever you look for it, and you will carry that emblem of good fortune (eye intact! not dead!) until you go to your grave.

*   *   *

Split eyebrow scars, one left and one right, almost perfectly symmetrical, the first caused by running full tilt into a brick wall during a dodgeball game in grade school gym class (the massively swollen black eye you sported for days afterward, which reminded you of a photograph of boxer Gene Fullmer, who had been defeated in a championship bout by Sugar Ray Robinson around the same time) and the second caused in your early twenties when you drove in for a layup during an outdoor basketball game, were fouled from behind, and flew into the metal pole supporting the basket. Another scar on your chin, origin unknown. Most likely from an early childhood spill, a hard fall onto a sidewalk or a stone that split open your flesh and left its mark, which is still visible whenever you shave in the morning. No story accompanies this scar, your mother never talked about it (at least not that you can recall), and you find it odd, if not downright perplexing, that this permanent line was engraved on your chin by what can only be called an invisible hand, that your body is the site of events that have been expunged from history.

*   *   *

It is June 1959. You are twelve years old, and in one week you and your sixth-grade classmates will be graduating from the grammar school you have attended since you were five. It is a splendid day, late spring in its most lustrous incarnation, sunlight pouring down from a cloudless blue sky, warm but not too warm, scant humidity, a soft breeze stirring the air and rippling over your face and neck and bare arms. Once school lets out for the day, you and a gang of your friends repair to Grove Park for a game of pickup baseball. Grove Park is not a park so much as a kind of village green, a large rectangle of well-tended grass flanked by houses on all four sides, a pleasant spot, one of the loveliest public spaces in your small New Jersey town, and you and your friends often go there to play baseball after school, since baseball is the thing you all love most, and you play for hours on end without ever growing weary of it. No adults are present. You establish your own ground rules and settle disagreements among yourselves—most often with words, occasionally with fists. More than fifty years later, you remember nothing about the game that was played that afternoon, but what you do remember is the following: The game is over, and you are standing alone in the middle of the infield, playing catch with yourself, that is, throwing a ball high into the air and following its ascent and descent until it lands in your glove, at which point you immediately throw the ball into the air again, and each time you throw the ball it travels higher than it did the time before, and after several throws you are reaching unprecedented heights, the ball is hovering in the air for many seconds now, the white ball going up against the clear blue sky, the white ball coming down into your glove, and your entire being is engaged in this witless activity, your concentration is total, nothing exists now except the ball and the sky and your glove, which means that your face is turned upward, that you are looking up as you follow the trajectory of the ball, and therefore you are no longer aware of what is happening on the ground, and what happens on the ground as you are looking up at the sky is that something or someone unexpectedly comes crashing into you, and the impact is so sudden, so violent, so overwhelming in its force that you instantly fall to the ground, feeling as though you have been hit by a tank. The brunt of the blow was aimed at your head, in particular your forehead, but your torso has been battered as well, and as you lie on the ground gasping for breath, stunned and nearly unconscious, you see that blood is flowing from your forehead, no, not flowing, gushing, and so you remove your white T-shirt and press it against the gushing spot, and within seconds the white T-shirt has turned entirely red. The other boys are alarmed. They come rushing toward you to do what they can to help, and it is only then that you find out what happened. It seems that one of your cohort, a gangly, good-hearted lunkhead called B.T. (you remember his name but will not divulge it here, since you do not want to embarrass him—assuming he is still alive), was so impressed by your towering, skyscraper throws that he got it into his head to take part in the action, and without bothering to tell you that he, too, was going to try to catch one of your throws started running in the direction of the descending ball, head turned upward, of course, and mouth hanging open in that oafish way of his (what person runs with his mouth hanging open?), and when he crashed into you a moment later, running at an all-out gallop, the teeth protruding from his open mouth went straight into your head. Hence the blood now gushing out of you, hence the depth of the gash in the skin above your left eye. Fortunately, the office of your family doctor is just across the way, in one of the houses that line the perimeter of Grove Park. The boys decide to lead you there at once, and so you cross the park holding your bloody T-shirt against your head in the company of your friends, perhaps four of them, perhaps six of them, you no longer remember, and burst en masse into Dr. Kohn’s office. (You have not forgotten his name, just as you have not forgotten the name of your kindergarten teacher, Miss Sandquist, or the names of any of the other teachers you had as a boy.) The receptionist tells you and your friends that Dr. Kohn is seeing a patient just now, and before she can get up from her chair to inform the doctor that there is an emergency to attend to, you and your friends march into the consulting room without bothering to knock. You find Dr. Kohn talking to a plump, middle-aged woman who is sitting on the examination table dressed in a bra and slip only. The woman lets out a yelp of surprise, but once Dr. Kohn sees the blood gushing from your forehead, he tells the woman to get dressed and leave, tells your friends to make themselves scarce, and then hastens to the task of sewing up your wound. It is a painful procedure, since there is no time to administer an anesthetic, but you do your best not to howl as he threads the stitches through your skin. The job he does is perhaps not as brilliant as the one executed by the doctor who sewed up your cheek in 1950, but it is effective for all that, since you do not bleed to death and no longer have a hole in your head. Some days later, you and your sixth-grade classmates take part in your grammar school graduation ceremony. You have been selected to be a flag-bearer, which means that you must carry the American flag down an aisle of the auditorium and plant it in the flag stand on stage. Your head is wrapped in a white gauze bandage, and because blood still seeps occasionally from the spot where you were stitched up, the white gauze has a large red stain on it. After the ceremony, your mother says that when you were walking down the aisle with the flag, you reminded her of a painting of a wounded Revolutionary War hero. You know, she says, just like The Spirit of ’76.

*   *   *

What presses in on you, what has always pressed in on you: the outside, meaning the air—or, more precisely, your body in the air around you. The soles of your feet anchored to the ground, but all the rest of you exposed to the air, and that is where the story begins, in your body, and everything will end in the body as well. For now, you are thinking about the wind. Later, if time allows for it, you will think about the heat and the cold, the infinite varieties of rain, the fogs you have stumbled through like a man without eyes, the demented, machine-gun tattoo of hailstones clattering against the tile roof of the house in the Var. But it is the wind that claims your attention now, for the air is seldom still, and beyond the barely perceptible breath of nothingness that sometimes surrounds you, there are the breezes and wafting lilts, the sudden gusts and squalls, the three-day-long mistrals you lived through in that house with the tile roof, the soaking nor’easters that sweep along the Atlantic coast, the gales and hurricanes, the whirlwinds. And there you are, twenty-one years ago, walking through the streets of Amsterdam on your way to an event that has been canceled without your knowledge, dutifully trying to fulfill the commitment you have made, out in what will later be called the storm of the century, a hurricane of such blistering intensity that within an hour of your stubborn, ill-advised decision to venture outdoors, large trees will be uprooted in every corner of the city, chimneys will tumble to the ground, and parked cars will be lifted up and go sailing through the air. You walk with your face to the wind, trying to advance along the sidewalk, but in spite of your efforts to get to where you are going, you cannot move. The wind is blasting into you, and for the next minute and a half, you are stuck.

*   *   *

Your hands on the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin thirteen Januarys ago, the

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3.8
17 évaluations / 21 Avis
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  • (5/5)
    Great audio book, read by the author. An interesting memoir, told in the 2nd person. Don't let this put you off. It its easy to adjust to and has the added benefit of pointing out many of the similarities all our lives share.
  • (2/5)
    Winter Journal by Paul AusterThis is an uneven effort from a writer, Paul Auster, I am quite familiar with. Having read several of his novels and one other volume of memoir, Hand to Mouth, I am aware that his complete oeuvre is also “uneven”.Winter Journal is basically a 64 year old man’s look back at his life. From early childhood to his current age, Auster offers glimpses of importance and triteness. Exploring his own body in a bathtub, hearing stories about his ancestors and chronicling his relationships with women and his wife and children , he offers what I assume are meaningful events of his life.Yet reading a list of foods he ate as a child is the height of triteness – I gave up on this list midway through. At other times he offers insights that are thoughtful- a conversation about age and death he has with the French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant.Like his novels, some soar-The Book of Illusions- while others thud-Oracle Night. Auster is brave enough to share his inner thoughts and intimacies yet some of them were best left on the editing table.This book has some interest for me because I, too, am 64, Jewish, a New Yorker and reader yet even then this is a thin weightless effort; a throwaway that Auster should have left in his desk drawer.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. Devoured it. Was amazed I hadn't read more by Paul Auster, until I realized I had and didn't care for it (Invisible). Winter Journal, though, was completely different: unvarnished, beautifully written, a window into his soul and his life.
  • (5/5)
    Excellently written memoir of the author, who is 64, reviewing his regrets, experiences and dreams from youth to "old age." Some great wisdom for Baby Boomers approaching the "winter" of their lives. "How many mornings are left?"
  • (4/5)
    "Winter Journal" is a memoir of Paul Auster's body––which is not to say a memoir devoid of any psychology or emotion, but rather one in which the psychology and emotion always arise through somatic reflection: insomnia recalling certain memories, panic attacks as a means of introducing the topic of a mother's death, STI's as reminders of lovers past. The book is a catalogue of everything Auster's body has suffered and everywhere Auster's body has been, and thus a record of everything Auster himself has experienced. Auster's embrace of his own corporeality is comforting, and provides a fascinating look in on a life which might not have been quite as interesting if rehearsed in a more straightforward fashion. Furthermore, Auster's attention to his body is, of course, also attention to his mortality, making "Winter Journal" a fitting account not only of a life but of a life in the face of death.
  • (4/5)
    WINTER JOURNAL is only the second book by Paul Auster I have read. I remember greatly enjoying one of his novels a decade or more ago: TIMBUKTU, with its unusually perceptive canine character, Mister Bones. Auster's memoir, however, was not nearly as enjoyable. With its long detailed lists and descriptions of places he's lived, foods he liked, his life-long love affair with baseball, the many allusions to the breakup of his parents' marriage, as well as the mapping of his own body with its scars both visible and not, the memoir had so much promise. And yet it read almost more like a biography than a memoir. This was due in no large part I think to Auster's unnecessarily artsy and affected use of the second person as his chosen method for telling his story. It felt like he was viewing his own life through the wrong end of a telescope, depersonalizing the naarrative and keeping him at a safe distance from his reader.I was very frustrated and ultimately sad about this narrative device, because many of his experiences, particularly those from his childhood and teenage years, were universal in nature, things I should have been able to identify closely with, but there was that damned second-person "you-this" and "you-that" constantly in the way. It's too bad, because Auster's life has been a well-traveled and intensely interesting artist's journey. Unfortunately, he remained largely remote and icily detached. It just didn't work for me.
  • (3/5)
    Oh dear. Obviously, I don't know what a memoir is supposed to be or do. I think that in this one the reader was to feel herself looking over the author's shoulder as he recalled the physical facts of his life. I could never get by the second-person narration. I still wonder, "Who does that? Is there anybody in the world who remembers what he did by saying, 'So there you were lying in the bed...'" Not me. Then there are the lists. I loathe listing as an excuse for writing. Even if you're Paul Auster, I don't want to read "...the hundreds if not thousands of candy bars you consumed before the age of twelve: Milky Ways, Three Musketeers, Chunkys, Charleston Chews, York Mints, Junior Mints, Mars bars, Snickers bars,..." (I am kinder to you, my reader, than Auster is.) Then there is the sheer bloody-minded self-indulgence: "...an ancient longing will suddenly take hold of you, and then you will cast your eyes down at the sweets on display below the cash register, and if they happen to have Chuckles in stock, you will buy them. Within ten minutes, all five of the jellied candies will be gone. Red, yellow, green, orange, and black." On the other hand, I was often fascinated with the stories that he chose to tell. I also found moments of wonderful expression and insight as when he quotes and comments on Joubert,"One must die lovable (if one can)," or "Writing begins in the body, it is the music of the body, and even if the words have meaning, can sometimes have meaning, the music of the words is where the meanings begin." What I take away from the book is scattered pictures and feelings with nothing solid beyond Auster's intention to keep on living whatever his life as an old person will be.
  • (4/5)
    Perhaps it is something as simple as this: that a man fears death more at fifty-seven than he does at seventy-four.I’ve only read Paul Auster’s nonfiction but I love it -- whether it’s life’s coincidences in The Red Notebook or this memoir on aging, written over a winter as Auster moves from midlife toward old age. I also feel that the total of an Auster book is less than the sum of its parts. In other words: I love the reading but like the overall work somewhat less.Here he journals about his first 64 years and filters his recollections through his body and the spaces around and within it. It’s a chapter-less sequence of musings with just the occasional space on a page to separate vignettes. It’s written entirely in second-person point of view -- which immediately raised my guard and then surprised me by becoming less visible and even pulling me into the experience just like it’s supposed to. The best passages are the sections of 8-10 pages of solid, unparagraphed text, where he dives deeper and takes the reader along; I grew to love seeing them ahead.Whereas Auster wrote about his father in The Invention of Solitude, here he writes about his mother, including this passage from a night after they visited her gravely ill second husband in the hospital:…just when you thought it would be impossible for anyone to say another word, when the heaviness in your hearts seemed to have crushed all the words out of you, your mother started telling jokes {…} jokes so funny that you and your wife laughed until you could hardly breathe anymore {…} an unending torrent of classic yenta routines with all the appropriate voices and accents, the old Jewish women sitting around a card table and sighing, each one sighing in turn, each one sighing more loudly than the last, until one of the women finally says, “I thought we agreed not to talk about the children.”And then this:You have seen several corpses in the past {…} but none of those corpses belonged to your mother, no other dead body was the body in which your own life began, and you can look for no more than a few seconds before you turn your head away.As a whole, it feels like a journal -- a notebook filled with stream-of-consciousness writing from prompts in a memoir class (especially the 53 pages -- one-fourth of the book -- that recall the place of his birth and his 21 residential addresses since). Yet the pages are so good! I’m definitely going to read the rest of his nonfiction.(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)
  • (4/5)
    A number of words come to mind when one considers Paul Auster’s new memoir, Winter Journal – unconventional, personal (almost by definition, I suppose), rambling, confusing, boring, frustrating, rewarding, revealing, gratifying, moving. Consequently, although many readers are certain to appreciate the book, I suspect that an equal number will end up considering it a waste of precious reading time. Auster, in his sixty-third year when writing Winter Journal, has produced what his publisher calls an “unconventional memoir,” a “history of his body and its sensations.” And a memoir that includes a list and description of every scar on the author’s body - and how he earned those scars – along with a description of all twenty-one addresses where his body has ever resided (a descriptive list that burns 53 pages of the 230-page ARC edition of the memoir) is exactly that. The publisher, of course, uses the word “unconventional” as a selling point, but I am not certain that readers will necessarily agree that this much unconventionality is a good thing. The section on a lifetime of living space will, in fact, likely be the tipping point for those readers who might already be starting to question the Winter Journal reading experience. They will either make it through these 53 pages, and the rest of the book, or they will give up somewhere in the middle of the list.Surprisingly for such a short book, Auster also devotes almost ten full pages to recounting the plot of the noirish 1950 movie D.O.A. Again, unconventionally, the author devotes as much time to the details of the film as to the reason he references it in the first place – Auster’s experience with panic attacks. Admittedly, the main character of D.O.A. suffers a classic panic attack of his own, but reading ten pages of movie recap grows rather tedious.The book may be uneven, but moving moments are sprinkled throughout. Auster’s memories of his visits to Minnesota and the pages he devotes to personal relationships (particularly to his relationship with his second wife), for instance, work beautifully. There is a horrifying memory of an encounter he had with a Parisian piano-tuner while living in France with a girlfriend. There is the moment during which the author reflects on Joubert’s thoughts on growing old: “One must die loveable (if one can).” Auster explains his understanding of the Joubert quote this way:“You are moved by this sentence, especially by the words in parentheses, which demonstrate a rare sensitivity of spirit, you feel, a hard-won understanding of how difficult it is to be loveable, especially for someone who is old, who is sinking into decrepitude and must be cared for by others. If one can.”Consider, too, Auster’s recollection of an observation generously offered him by an aging French actor:“Paul, there’s just one thing I want to tell you. At fifty-seven (Auster’s age at the time of the conversation), I felt old. Now, at seventy-four, I feel much younger than I did then.”Confused for a long while by this observation, it is only several years later that Auster comes to believe the actor may have been telling him that “a man fears death more at fifty-seven than he does at seventy-four.” So there are wonderful moments in Winter Journal, and there are whole sections that left me wishing the author would simply get on with it. Unconventional, it certainly is.Rated at: 3.5
  • (4/5)
    Mostly, I like Paul Auster's writing. I absolutely loved Timbuktu, didn't enjoy The New York Trilogy at all, loved Auggie Wren's Christmas, and was fascinated by The Music of Chance. I liked this work, a semi-detached (because it's written in the second person) remembrance of his body (according to the publisher) and life.It's gentle, it's harsh in places, it's a tribute to his mother and his wife, and, incidentally, there's an excellent dissection and review of the 1950's version of DOA to explain panic attacks. Several reviewers have commented on the lists and how distracting or annoying they are--but I find them fascinating. Auster lists every address he stayed at or lived at, with a summary of what happened at that point in his life. I track my addresses, and I know my mother did, all her life. It's all about what was happening at that period in our lives. Auster's recall is sharp and specific and, if sometimes, he does seem to carry on more than necessary, well, don't we all at times? This is a gentle, personal book, probably not for everyone. There's no scandal in the writing, there's a sharing of a single life. Having recently read Rousseau's Reveries of the Solitary Walker and Cela's Journey to the Alcarria, both told as memoirs outside of the first person, I found Winter Journal quite appealing.
  • (3/5)
    Paul Auster's books take me to unfamiliar places of the mind yet usually leave me unsatisfied and slightly puzzled. I like the way "Winter Journal" is organized and can tolerate the "you", but the 2nd person distanced my feelings rather than embodying them.

    The long lists of bodily sensations lack the luster of the lyrical descriptions to be found in David Mitchell's "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet". See Whitaker's masterful review of that book for a detailed analysis.

    Best line is a quote from T. L.Eliot, who held up his hand in front of a woman who had asked to shake it and asked her "Madam, do you know where this hand has been?" Oh, the images.
  • (4/5)
    Paul Auster's Winter journal is more like a note-book than a journal. In the book, author writes that he began this journal when he was 64 years old. The Winter journal is neither chronological, nor does it have dated entries.The Winter journal is a contemplative autobiography. Auster goes over his life, step by step, creating lists of, for example, all the addresses he has lived at, all illnesses he had and all near-misses with death. The book is a bit morbid in the sense that it contemplates life as much as it contemplates death. It is a modern memento mori, as seemingly so many are published these days.While the Winter journal has some boring parts, there are also some very impressive sections, with outstanding prose; for instance, the episode about the swallowed fish bone is captivating, while Auster's description of his visit to the site of the former concentration camp Bergen-Belsen is chilling.Reiteration and parallels, as in one's own life, and comparison with other lives, reveals the element of chance in one's survival. Diseases, a car accident, the famous "small accidents around the house", they all occur when one least expects it. The solid oak leg of the table can be the banal cause of death of the one, or a near miss to another.While many books on this theme are pessimistic or mainly appeal to an older readership, Auster's Winter Journal offers as much to older as to younger readers. Firstly, the Winter Journal gives readers an peek from an unusual perspective into the author's life. The many described details are of the kind usually left out of official biographies. Not much autobiographical material has been published about Auster so far. It is actually interesting to discover through reading the Winter Journal that some of Auster's novels which seem so totally fictional do include references to real life which caused irritation on the part of his relatives.Another optimistic outlook Winter Journal permits is the sense that 64 is not that very old, and although the author tends to see 64 as a high age, there are several suggestions that at 64 one is just at the threshold of a next stage in life, and that the contemplative, brooding mood is something like a mini-"mid"-life crisis, which marks the transition to the next stage. This optimism should appeal to readers of all ages, as does the book
  • (4/5)
    This is a memoir that is unlike any other that I have read. Paul Auster examines his life from a multitude of seemingly mundane angles. First he thinks about all of the ways that he has experienced his body, the joy he felt in using his body to play baseball as a child, the ways his body has compensated for his inability to express grief by shutting down and causing him to endure panic attacks when his mother dies.

    Auster then considers all of the addresses at which he has lived, and what the specific spaces have meant to him. My favorite was his description of a ramshackle farm house he purchased with his first wife in upstate New York that was previously owned by two ancient German sisters and still hosted their malevolent spirits.

    I think that this non-linear approach to auto-biography reveals more about the author than any other I have read because his categorical lists of remembrance are the ways, I think, that most of us think about our own memories. Therefore, Auster's writing seems more real and vibrant than if he had chosen to fashion his life into a traditional, linear format.

    I have read a couple of Auster's other books, but I don't think it is necessary to have any familiarity with him in order to enjoy this book. The interesting word pictures he makes and the unique point of view is enough to make this an interesting read even if Auster were a plumber instead of an award winning author.
  • (4/5)
    This is a very special book. Auster is writing about his life, by dropping down — seemingly at random, or so it seems so far — on all times in his life, be he 6 or 64. Very personal and real. In the beginning he uses lots of very short pieces (half a page down to a paragraph) and as you move through the book there are some much longer sections. It's written in the second person and while it is so personal, he is such a fine writer that he engages the reader. He also amused this reader many times. His views of life, death, and everything else we all go through, are most interesting. Reading this slim volume was a fascinating place to be.
  • (4/5)
    You are approaching your sixty-fourth birthday and your thoughts become increasingly reflective. As memories from events in your past coming flooding back—some from more than a half-century ago—you struggle to make sense of what they all mean. A celebrated novelist by trade, you naturally think to put order and context to your reflections in the form of a memoir. The result is ‘Winter Journal’, an honest and moving meditation as you approach the last season of your life.While admittedly weak, the previous description, which is written in Auster’s oddly effective second-person narrative style, provides an adequate summary of what the reader will find in this book. As the author himself so aptly puts it, a writer’s job is “to explore the interior of his own head”. Most of the time, of course, this exploration has involved him stretching the limits of imagination to produce compelling fiction; here, though, he pours over memories from a boyhood spent fighting and seeking knowledge, his myriad casual and meaningful relationships with women (including two marriages: one turbulent, one lasting), his academic and professional career, dealing with anti-Semitic incidents, and, especially, the life and death of his mother. As any fan of Auster’s fiction knows, his stories are inventive, complex, and anything but straightforward. Unsurprisingly, then, his autobiography is not told in a simple, linear manner either. Since the search for one’s identity is a recurring theme in many of his novels, it seems natural for the author to write a book in which he scours the past for his own. (Actually, this is the second memoir he has written; ‘The Invention of Solitude’ appeared thirty years earlier.) One intriguing device he uses in developing this history is to relive the most poignant moments spent in the twenty-one apartments or houses he has inhabited throughout his life in both the United States and France.Without question, Auster has led an interesting life. In truth, though, his life is not appreciably more or less interesting than those of a lot of people who have felt compelled to write their own autobiographies. What sets ‘Winter Journal” apart is the quality of the writing itself and it was this craftsmanship that made this a very satisfying reading experience.
  • (4/5)
    A very personal yet completely universal memoir, Paul Auster shares his life in brief passages that range all the way from basically biological to elegantly spiritual. Childhood, adolescence, marriages, parenthood and loss of parents, travel, injuries, true love, mistakes, food, family, abodes, baseball. He has written this journal very gracefully in the second person and so you are taken in immediately - it is both a gentle and unrelenting mirror. Perhaps you are in no way similar to Paul Auster in age or gender or cultural background. Perhaps you have not traveled all over the world or become a renown writer. But you recognize what he is saying and discover how much you have in common with this fellow human. You find yourself nodding...yes, yes...that is how it is. You receive the gift of spending a bit of time with a wonderful writer and could very well pass this journal along to others - it seems that kind of book.
  • (3/5)
    Mr. Auster writes about looking back on his life as he turns 63. There are parts that beautiful and touching. Yet I found some aspects of the book irritating, he likes to make list. He made a list of every place he lived, every place he traved to, every type of food he eat. and of course a list of all his lovers. I wish that his editor would edit the list out
  • (5/5)
    In which Paul Auster demonstrates that, at 64, he is totally in control of his craft. A masterly, and engrossing account of what should be quite personal material not necessarily interesting to anyone outside his family. I found it hard to put down. This is an non linear memoir, not quite autobiography, but more his memories of significant parts of his life. The section where he describes every address he's ever lived at, is particularly moving. As are the recollections of his mother who sounds like an enormous influence (his father, not so much). There is a lot of honestly in there as well, although whether some of the people mentioned, such as his first wife, would necessarily appreciate that honesty, is another matter. Auster's fiction has not been as sharp, at least for me, as when at is peak (which for me is about 10 years ago at the time of The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions and Oracle Night). Perhaps he will never write outstanding fiction again. But as an autobiographer he's outstanding. I shall now go and buy the companion volume, Notes From The Interior
  • (5/5)
    Winter Journal is Paul Auster revealing himself. He swoops down into the darkest (and lightest) bits of him and PRESTO we have the inner workings of an excellent artistic writer. I decided to audio book this because Auster reads the book himself, giving you the perfect tone and inflection. The "journal" is done in second person which pulls you right into his life. He sets the mood for each setting so well, I could close my eyes and imagine I was right in the middle of his life. I feel like I should have more to say about this book (especially since it has now become a "favorite")but I think you'll have to read it yourself to experience the magic it holds. However, I do recommend listening to it on audio if you have the option.
  • (3/5)
    Auster's second memoir was interesting, if a bit weird. Who writes a memoir in second person? I am sure, knowing the profound nature of his novels, that Auster has a reason, but it was distracting to me. Frankly, the last third was the most interesting. Auster compares writing to dance, and both of them to expressions of the heart rhythm. Love that part of it! Auster is one of my favorite authors, but this fell short of my expectations.
  • (4/5)
    Loving his novels, I thought this slim memoir might be "spare fare" from Paul Auster, but I was (once again) completely taken with the world he creates. He manages the second person narration with skill and delves deep into himself without seeming deeply self-indulgent. Glad to see there's a companion volume coming out next Fall. There's a reason that I've read 15 other Auster books...I'd be happy to read 15 more.