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 foot 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 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.
☛ Winter Journal by Paul Auster, New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2012, p. 1.
On October 1st, Paul Auster was at the New York Public Library to discuss his latest book with Paul Holdengräber:
Facing his sixty-forth winter, novelist Paul Auster decides to write a journal documenting his own aging, in ways he never imagined. Deeply personal, rooted in a reflection on his own history, Winter Journal is also a meditation on time, the body, the weight of memory, a long and fulfilling marriage, and language itself.
In conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Paul Auster will discuss Winter Journal and the autobiographical fragments that produce the mosaic of his life.
A video of the whole event was made and is available either to watch online or to download (both in video and audio format: follow the link over at the NYPL). One can also watch it below:
One can also watch a video uploaded by Faber and Faber: Paul Auster introduces Winter Journal. The video is embedded below:
Finally, here are some reviews of the book (both favorable and less favorable) as well as some additional relevant resources.
The New York Times: “These Wild Solitudes” by Meghan O’Rourke, September 7, 2012.
If in “The Invention of Solitude” Auster wrote about his father as a kind of invisible man, a hard-working but undemonstrative parent who floated in and out of his family, in “Winter Journal” he mines his relationship with his mother. She was a tricky character in her own right, Auster realized after she died.
The Guardian: “Winter Journal by Paul Auster – review” by J. Robert Lennon, August 15, 2012.
Indeed, Auster’s literary self-mythologisation is epic. He reminds us that he uses a vintage manual typewriter while “bleeding words onto a page”, and that he enjoys the pleasures, in his home, of a wonderful book-lined room that he and his wife, ingeniously, “both refer to as the library”. He describes himself as “the single self, the lone person […] a silent man cut off from the rest of the world, day after day sitting at his desk for no other purpose than to explore the interior of his own head”. His actions remind him of the great writers of the past, including Joyce and Moliére. “Looking at your right hand,” he tells himself, “as it grips the black fountain pen you are using to write this journal, you think of Keats looking at his own right hand under similar circumstances.”
The Telegraph: “Winter Journal by Paul Auster: review” by Lilian Pizzichini, September 18, 2012.
This volume, now Auster has reached his sixties, turns to the author’s mortality, his very physicality – the body that is beginning to mark time towards his decline. He addresses his body as “you”, and so the reader is included in the solipsistic musings of a 64-year-old man.
The New Yorker: “Briefly Noted―Winter Journal”, September 3, 2012, p. 69.
While at times the book languishes in long, if poetically rendered, lists of addresses and favorite foods, Auster’s ruminations on death, family, memory, and marriage are both poignant and delightful.
On July 9, 2012, publisher McMillian uploaded a video of Paul Auster reading from his book: In Studio: Paul Auster reads from Winter Journal.
NPR: “Paul Auster Meditates On Life, Death And Near Misses” Fresh Air from WHYY, August 23, 2012. An 18 minutes audio interview with Paul Auster about his new book.