By Paul Auster
"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 happen, and then one by one, they begin to happen to you in the way they happen to everyone else."
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.
Now this is my new favorite Paul Auster book. I feel this is the beginning of my new adoration of him. This is an autobiography in the coolest sense of the word. It's written in a free verse, run on and totally true way that is so Paul Auster. It makes me feel like I've been there through most of his life, his youth in the 60s and 70s and his very cool reality of living abroad in France for several years in his early 20s. He gives the context that most American readers will be accustomed to. He is the same age as my parents and growing up in that household has made me familiar with the cultural realm in which they grew up in.
I love how he story tells. One good example is the department store incident. His mother and one of her friend when she was in her 20s and Auster was a toddler. He describes his frolic with another child in a construction area in this large New Jersy department store. The story ends in a permanent facial scar after having escaped the watchful care of his mother. In this story snippet, he sets up the joy of being free and sliding with his young comrade on his belly along the smooth floor. Becoming more and more daring until he is suddenly rushing face first into a nail that is jutting from a pile of wood boards. We, as readers, can remember that moment in our lives which we received our first serious injury and how it became imprinted both upon our selves both physically and mentally. The feeling of the floor falling away and the realization that death and danger are not far away from everyday situations. It is universal to the human condition and Auster does a flawless job resurfacing that core experience.
He sorts the autobiography narrative into things that scarred his body and how those stories lead to pinnacles of time in his personal development. He sorts his life by the women he loved and the depth or brevity of those affairs. He sorts his life by the physical pleasure and ailments that have arisen and then were handled in the course of his life. He doesn't tell his life story in a chronological pattern but much like the thought patterns of a dream. He jumps forward and back in time to the synchronicity of being in Paris, feeling like he was about to die, or the deaths of people close to him.
I am touched deeply by the vulnerability of the premise of the book, which is defined metaphorically in the title: Winter Journal. This is the winter of his life. He tells the reader about the spring, summer, fall and ends with what he is calling the winter. Not quite old; but no longer young. I have often spent many a moment considering the chronology of my own life. I think about how it'll be to age, and be "old," to have my once young and elastic body become stiff and weakened (even in the amount of time that I have been alive.)
"You never expect it to happen to you." So true. I thought I'd never age, never be given the chance to be an adult with her life together: a car, an office-job, a life-partner, and children. But now I feel I'm the same child I have always been but people are continually born and I seem to be advancing forward and away from the years I was in high school, and in college.
Life is much different after those two eras. Not awful, but no longer full of; unpredictable hi-jinx, wide open possibilities and partying. Now I want to go to bed earlier, I just want to stay at home and cook meals with my life partner and our dog. I want to own a house and have children. The longer lasting pieces of happiness ring true and foretell my actual age.
I like hearing about the life of a writer. A real writer who has done it; made a living from his artistic craft. I can relate to that passion; to write and create something that you've poured your soul into. Something that you can be proud of. It has always been my dream to be able to make a living from one of my artistic crafts.
Paul Auster has done it.
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