Travels in the Scriptorium: Book summary and reviews of Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster

Travels in the Scriptorium

By Paul Auster

Travels in the Scriptorium
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2007,
    160 pages.

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Book Summary

An old man awakens, disoriented, in an unfamiliar chamber. With no memory of who he is or how he has arrived there, he pores over the relics on the desk, examining the circumstances of his confinement and searching his own hazy mind for clues.

Determining that he is locked in, the man--identified only as Mr. Blank--begins reading a manuscript he finds on the desk, the story of another prisoner, set in an alternate world the man doesn't recognize. Nevertheless, the pages seem to have been left for him, along with a haunting set of photographs. As the day passes, various characters call on the man in his cell--vaguely familiar people, some who seem to resent him for crimes he can't remember--and each brings frustrating hints of his identity and his past. All the while an overhead camera clicks and clicks, recording his movements, and a microphone records every sound in the room. Someone is watching.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"While Auster's lean, poker-faced prose creates a satisfyingly claustrophobic allegory, the tidy, self-referential ending lends a writing-exercise patina to the work." - PW.
"Rarely has a novelist pulled the strings of his puppetry more transparently, as ardent fans may find this meta-fictional fable profound, while others may dismiss it as a literary parlor trick." - Kirkus.
"Auster coyly celebrates the power of the imagination and marvels over the labyrinthine nature of the mind in an archly playful and shrewdly philosophical tribute to the transcendence of stories." - Booklist.

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Author Information

Paul Auster Author Biography

Paul Benjamin Auster was born on February 3, 1947 in Newark, New Jersey.  His father, Samuel Auster, was a landlord; his mother, Queenie was about 13 years younger than her husband; the marriage was not a happy one. When Auster was about 3, his mother gave birth to a daughter; sadly by the time she was five it was apparent that she was psychologically unstable, and later suffered mental breakdowns. 

Auster's passion for reading began when he was about 12 and his uncle, Allen Mandelbaum (a professor of Italian literature, a poet, and a prolific translator) left several boxes of books in storage in the Auster's house while he traveled to Europe.  Paul read the books avidly and developed an interest in writing and literature that further accentuated his ...

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