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Winter Journal – Paul Auster

August 10, 2012

Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
240 pages
ISBN: 9780805095531
Source: Publisher

I guess I could say that I’m in the Summer of my life. I’m past the horrendous “everything is blooming” stage of childhood and young adulthood but not into the drudgery of middle age. I’m a long way off from being a Decembrist. Still, there is a lot to learn and a lot to experience. For that reason, I wasn’t sure how much I would relate to Paul Auster’s latest work.

Winter Journal is just that: a memoir, written in the creeping twilight days of the¬†author’s life. Though it’s a short book, it manages to expertly walk through Auster’s life from beginning to end, happening upon boyhood friends (and enemies), young (and old) loves, work, leisure, happiness, loss, hunger and plenty.

Such an accomplished writer is obviously capable of turning the most mundane childhood stories, the most unappealing teen traumas and the utter ennui filled gloom of middle life into a volume well worth reading. This is one of the things, I think, that defines a “great writer” from “someone who writes books”, in mind. A book should hold my attention, regardless of the actual story. The teller should (and in Auster’s case, does) paint an amazing enough picture that even a walk down the sidewalk looks like the best or worst day of a young boy’s life.

Even if you haven’t read any of Auster’s previous works, do pick this up. It’s beautiful and accessible, rich and simple all in one. It hits shelves on the 21st and will definitely delight.

As a side note, I should mention that this piece is also available in audio book form. the lovely folks at Macmillan Audio sent long this behind the scenes look and listen of Auster recording the audio track.

Check it out and please, oh please, do pick up the book in the manifestation of your choice!

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