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Winter Journalby Paul Auster
Synopses & Reviews
From the bestselling novelist and author of The Invention of Solitude, a moving and highly personal meditation on the body, time, and language itself.
"That is where the story begins, in your body, and everything will end in the body as well."
Facing his sixty-third winter, internationally acclaimed novelist Paul Auster sits down to write a history of his body and its sensations — both pleasurable and painful.
Thirty years after the publication of The Invention of Solitude, in which he wrote so movingly about fatherhood, Auster gives us a second unconventional memoir in which he writes about his mother's life and death. Winter Journal is a highly personal meditation on the body, time, and memory, by one of our most intellectually elegant writers.
"'You think,' begins Auster in this quietly moving meditation on death and life, 'it will never happen to you.' But because this is not fiction and Auster (Sunset Park) is as human as the rest of us, 'one by one, they all begin to happen to you, in the same way they happen to everyone else.' The things that happen and which he chronicles are both momentous and mundane, the stuff of everyday life — the childhood baseball games, the succession of New York and Paris apartments (21 in total), even the women longed for, two of whom became wives — and the events that shook and shaped him. From the vantage point of the winter preceding his 64th birthday, Auster lets his body and its sensations guide his memories. There is no set chronology; time and place bleed from one year to another, between childhood and adulthood. His mother's death in May 2002 is one of the most deeply resonant sections, drawing on childhood memories of her as a Cub Scout den mother — though she'd entered the 'Land of Work' — along with her slow decline after the death of her second husband, made all the more painful as Auster relays it in retrospect, after the reader knows his mother is dead. This is the exquisitely wrought catalogue of a man's history through his body, a body that has felt pain and pleasure because ' body always knows what the mind doesn't know.' Agent: Carol Mann." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Auster's memoir courses gracefully over ground that is frequently rough, jarring and painful....But there are summery memories, as well....Some of the loveliest sentences in the text — and there are many — are illuminated by love....A consummate professional explores the attic of his life, converting rumination to art." Kirkus (starred review)
"An intensely sensuous account of strange and dramatic events punctuated by jazzy lists of everything from the places he's called home to his favorite foods. Auster's most piercing recollections are anchored to injury and illness, close calls and bad habits, age and...the ghoulish trigonometry of fate....Auster is startlingly forthright, mischievously funny, and unfailingly enrapturing as he transforms intimate memories into a zestful inquiry into the mind-body connection and the haphazard forging of a self." Donna Seaman, Booklist, Starred Review
"This book is called a memoir, but as might be expected of the brilliantly offbeat award-winning author of The New York Trilogy, its not a standard retelling of life events. Instead, as he approaches his mid-Sixties, Auster considers bodily pain and pleasure, the passage of time, and the weight of memory, stirring in reflections on his mother's life and death. High-minded readers will anticipate." Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"[A] graceful, moving new memoir...a kaleidoscopic reflection from one of our most important writers as he enters life's winter....Auster's brilliance is in how he makes his deep love for his subjects palpable....With Winter Journal, Auster has given us a remarkable mosaic of his mother and his second wife, the most vital women in his life, while, at the same time, allowing readers to catch glimpses of themselves in the expansive life that's woven together in this stirring memoir." Alex Lemon, Dallas Morning News
"[A] remarkable meditation on 'what it has felt like to live inside this body from the first day you can remember being alive until this one.' Notice his use of the second person? One of the first pleasures of Winter Journal is its feeling of immediacy, as if we are inside Auster's head staring with him into memory's mirror, listening to him talk to himself....Auster catalogs his memories with all the entertaining artistry of the best medieval poets." Alden Mudge, Bookpage
"For a reader of a certain age, perhaps a male reader of a certain age, there's a sharp shudder of recognition at the admission of minor vices, of neglect and breakdown, of the slow ravages of the body over time. As someone who shares many of these predilections, I find myself rendered nearly breathless by Auster's willingness to tell." David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"Readers of [Paul Auster's] string of beguiling novels, which include The New York Trilogy, The Brooklyn Follies and Sunset Park, will enjoy picking out the autobiographical roots of some of his fiction....Thoughtful ruminations on the nexus between the mundane and the meaningful, the physical and the emotional." Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
"Auster's memoir recalls his free-spirited mother and the history of his own body. We experience Auster's appetite for food and drink and literature but foremost for sex, as well as the crippling panic attacks that plagued him after his mother's death, the epiphany he experienced watching a dance performance that cured his writer's block, and the intense shame of nearly killing his family in a car accident. Over time, as Auster's body alternately ages and is revitalized, the composition of these elements creates an intimate symphony of selves, a song of the body for all seasons." Vanity Fair
About the Author
Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Sunset Park, Invisible, Man in the Dark, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Triology, among many other works. His books have been translated into forty-three languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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