Summary and book reviews of Winter Journal by Paul Auster

Winter Journal

By Paul Auster

Winter Journal
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Aug 2012,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2013,
    240 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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Book Summary

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.

Chapter 1

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 ...

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Reviews

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Winter Journal is far more than a simple collection of lists, however; the memoir is strongest and most emotionally compelling when the reader can see Auster arriving at moments of revelation, such as the realization that his moments of periodic physical frailty coincide closely with episodes of emotional intensity, personal crisis, and loss. Once this pattern has been identified, it's fascinating to trace it through his life, to consider what this synthesis of mind and body means not only for Auster but also for the lives and bodies of others.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review Members Only (1047 words).

Media Reviews
Library Journal

Auster has many readers across his fiction and nonfiction. This book makes him a flesh-and-blood person and thus should prove appealing to his fans.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review. 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.'

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A consummate professional explores the attic of his life, converting rumination to art.

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Paul Auster's Brooklyn

Paul Auster is well-known as a Brooklyn writer. In Winter Journal, he writes of first moving to Brooklyn in 1980 after enduring stints in suburbia and an overpriced rental in Manhattan: "Why hadn't you thought of this in 1976? you wondered … but the fact was that Brooklyn had never ever crossed your mind back then, for New York was Manhattan and Manhattan only, and the outer boroughs were as alien to you as the distant countries of Oceania or the Arctic Circle." Auster, of course, never looked back, living in a series of homes in Brooklyn, including the house in Park Slope he has shared with his wife, fellow writer Siri Hustvedt, for the past twenty years.

Reading Auster's descriptions of Brooklyn's tough, almost ugly, underbelly ...

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