“That is where the story begins, in your body and everything will end in the body as well.”
On January 3, 2011, exactly one month before his sixty-fourth birthday, internationally acclaimed novelist Paul Auster sat down and wrote the first entry of Winter Journal, his unorthodox, beautifully wrought examination of his own life, as seen through the history of his body. Auster takes us from childhood to the brink of old age as he summons forth a universe of physical sensation, of pleasures and pains, moving from the awakening of sexual desire as an adolescent to the ever deepening bonds of married love, from meditations on eating and sleeping to the “scalding, epiphanic moment of clarity” in 1978 that set him on a new course as a writer.
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 Trilogy, among many other works. His books have been translated into forty-three languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Praise for Winter Journal…
“As Auster escorts you through his life, you realize Winter Journal works like your own mind. It tells stories; it remembers, moves on, revisits; it sorts and classifies; it judges. Feels.”—Daniel Dyer, The Plain Dealer
“His concerns will be familiar to many readers, but because he is Paul Auster, he is uniquely able to reflect on them for the rest of us….Riveting…Writing in the second-person, almost as if talking about someone else or as if speaking with a stranger, Auster, oddly enough, establishes a powerful intimacy with the reader.”—Haaretz
“[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
“Each year, when the inevitable hand-wringing begins over the American drought in winning the Nobel Prize for literature, I’m always surprised that more critics don’t push Paul Auster....The recent knock against American literature is that it's ‘insular’ and ‘isolated,’ at least according to one grumpy Nobel Prize judge. As an antidote to those gripes, I’d like to press a few of Mr. Auster’s books into more Swedish hands….Mr. Auster’s prose is sharp and the plots are coiled. And best of all, his stories are addictively entertaining….Mr. Auster has written a spare meditation that’s thoroughly entertaining. In short, Winter Journal might contemplate the past, but it reinforces Paul Auster’s status as a writer at the peak of his talents.”—Cody Corliss, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Fascinating…Strikingly bold and original...Think of it as a literary cousin of Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film, ‘Amarcord’ (‘I remember’) — only this time, we watch the protagonist grow up and become pensively aware of his mortality.”—Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Paul Auster’s novels are mesmerizing reverie, often chilly to the touch yet exploding with exponential warmth on deeper consideration. The same can be said for Winter Journal, a new memoir that comes three decades after his first, The Invention of Solitude. Here, Auster surveys the physical, emotional and spiritual landscapes of his life, then deconstructs these touchstones one unreliable memory at a time. Deeply musical, often darkly funny ruminations on baseball, becoming a middle-aged orphan after his mother’s passing, the enduring power of love, and an intimate history of his own body’s pains and pleasures weave together to confirm that while no one gets out of this world alive, each moment can be transcendent.”—J. Rentilly, American Way
“Unusual, affecting….To experience Auster’s fixation on the body— and his way of staging that fixation as something you're complicit in—is to realize that most memoirs don't work this way. Not even the ones that focus on illness and death. Memoirs tend to be psychological studies of how one person's mind worked through something. Winter Journal instead foregrounds the physical; on the first page Auster states his intention to catalog ‘what it has felt like to live inside this body from the first day you can remember being alive until this one.’ With psychological interpretations stripped off, what's left is a more visceral accounting….What becomes clearer, and in its closing pages more potent, is the way this physical self-scrutiny amplifies his emotional responses.”—Mark Athitakis, Barnes & Noble Review
“[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 (Top Nonfiction Pick for September)
“An idiosyncratic memoir that is at times cerebral, at times bawdy, and in every sense consistently rewarding...Whether you experience what Auster calls the ‘journey through winter’ literally or figuratively, this book will serve as a worthy companion when you embark on it.”—Harvey Freedenberg, Bookreporter.com
“A highly personal memoir and extended essay, shaped oddly and intimately by an all-embracing second-person voice.”—Steve Paul, Kansas City Star
“The acclaimed novelist, now 65, writes affectingly about his body, family, lovers, travels and residences as he enters what he calls the winter of his life….Auster’s memoir courses gracefully over ground that is frequently rough, jarring and painful…A consummate professional explores the attic of his life, converting rumination to art.”—Kirkus, Starred Review
“[A] quietly moving meditation on death and life…This is the exquisitely wrought catalogue of a man’s history through his body.”—Publishers Weekly, 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, it’s 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
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