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From the bestselling novelist and author of The Invention of Solitude a moving and highly personal meditation on the body time and language itselfThat is where the story begins in your body and everything will end in the body as wellFacing his sixty third winter internationally acclaimed novelist Paul Auster sits down to write a history of his body and its sensations both pleasurable and painfulThirty 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

10 thoughts on “Winter Journal

  1. says:

    You think about that already at twenty five how many people have not made it to this point and what’s how many people were never born at all how many single cells who if only they had won the genetic lottery instead of you may have written something timeless than The Odyssey discovered elusive cures for what ails humanity or on the flip side to be fair destroyed lives than Pol Pot It is useless to speculate on these matters because time is unconcerned with what might have been but still you think about it and still you feel both undeserving and impossibly lucky Then unbeknownst and within moments of this profound appreciation you feel both dreadful and completely alone as if floating through space which of course strictly speaking you are You’re on your couch which often substitutes for your bed reading Winter Journal by Paul Auster As you are reading it you think what fun it would be if you believed in fun to write about your experience with the book in the second person as Paul Auster does observing his former selves in fragments and blinks of memory You think about how many hours of your life have been spent on this couch reading How many hours reading Paul Auster books? How many hours to come? You think about being less than half the age of Paul Auster and yet perhaps just as preoccupied with the absolute finality of the grave You wonder what life will be like if you endure to age sixty four at home in America on Earth You wonder what you may have to live through that Paul Auster will probably not Forced to recall the time you were T boned at an intersection in the station wagon your father was driving at that potentially fatal moment on Halloween night of 2001 a replica of which you have now inherited from him you read on with horror and sadness an account that feels all too familiar You can hear the windows all shattering at once because you have heard it You can look over and see your father hyperventilating unburdening himself all at once of the impact after the protection he provided for you in the form of an arm slung across your torso whilst simultaneously avoiding spinning into oncoming traffic for a double triple quadruple whammy of apocalyptic crunching metal You can exit the car survey the surreal damage and honestly wonder along with the author how you are still breathing You continue reading succumbing to tears and bordering on applause upon finding out that everyone his wife their daughter even the dog came through without any serious injuries as both you and your father had And the strangest thing of all which Paul Auster relaying the fortune of a doctor who happened upon the scene deemed a small miracle which is tempting to borrow if his work and your outlook were not dependent on chance your brother’s girlfriend now his wife and one of her friends whom you would years later escort down the aisle at their wedding were meandering down the path by which you were recently almost killed one of them you can’t recall who wearing an angel costume the corny and clichéd nature of which only hits you at the very moment you write this and gives you pause in including the detail at all Your future sister in law sees the familiar car totaled and then sees you and your father standing near it and calls out your father's name You now have a ride home from the wreckage and a story to tell Then in another instantaneous ecstatic to somber switch you are bogged down by the thought of all those who were not as fortunate as you your father Paul Auster his wife his daughter or their dog You recall a flamboyant and admirable high school classmate who days before his death in a car accident complimented you on your anachronistic overly large ‘90’s t shirt which you also inherited from your father complete with cool colored green blue purple squiggly stripes imitating a life line and multi outlined dots almost giving the illusion of fluctuating or static movement A fellow college student whom you didn’t know is brought to mind killed in a fiery crash along with her boyfriend the details of which you investigated obsessively for days thereafter discovering the reason was a drunk driver who survived Then as if clutching to be dragged along behind the previous memory a news story of two young children killed in a crash in Minneapolis as a result of someone who decided their time was important than anyone else’s Your girlfriend at the time gods know where she is now in junior high your very first who like Paul Auster in his early infatuations you would bend over and do anything for and who was prone and accustomed to incendiary spats one example of which resulted in a threat that your demise would occur at the hands of The Bloods after pinning one of their ostensible members to a table upon witnessing him violently shove your then girlfriend your then eternal soul mate the first instance in which you risked everything for what you thought was love and how you would do the same now if the situation presented itself or indeed if some immediate occurrence demanded such a swift spring to action a reaction which could pale in comparison to what shits you may flip if something comparable were to occur in your life now to those whom you now hold dearYou could keep writing now but you want to save some things for your own fragmentary literary auto biographical efforts which as with this influential and destined to be pre culminating work could wind up being some significant amount of a lifetime in the making and if only two people read it they will be the only two to have ever read it and then the sun will explode and it will not matter More examples of monotonous life experience Paul Auster discusses over the course of his lifetime that is to say confined to the contents within his book and to the limited experience of your significantly shorter life thus far would abound to which you could relate injuries and scars sexual encounters and heartache death of loved ones and musings on mortality You are not special or unique in this but you come to feel that you are paradoxically as you learn how severely and consolingly you are not You are confronted with a lifetime of things unlived by you but that you have come to have a stake in emotionally through mere chance of these events being recorded for you to come by to piece together the puzzle of to plunge the depths of to solve from a bird’s eye view the labyrinth of connections by an astounding concatenation of circumstancesMeeting Paul Auster was a hell of a thing You remember because this happened so recently You wondered what you might say to him You think that he may be impressed by your ties to Northfield Minnesota the town in which you in fact would meet him the hometown of his wife another fine writer Siri Husvedt whose sister your mother was close friends with in her youth You could have set him up for that James Joyce joke you heard him mention in an interview which involved a woman who asked to shake the hand of the man who wrote Ulysses to which Joyce responded in so many words that she may want to reconsider if she knew where else that hand had been Another option was to invoke the commencement Paul Auster had with Samuel Beckett when he was twenty five the same age as you are now in a ploy to convey some semblance of serendipity This seemed hokey regardless of how inspired you were to hear it One last refuge was to appeal to his former self which he as written about to tell him that never not once have you felt vindicated or normalized for being a bed wetter not only in your childhood but as Paul Auster admitted—stringing you along in solidarity—well beyond the acceptable age for being one a bed wetter Ultimately after seeing him in front of you hearing him speak in person and holding your copy of his book in his hands you opt for dead piercing silence He breaks this silence with a humble reticent and resounding thank you You would go on the next day to see him again and overcoming some of your nerves express to him how much the hell his work means to you a lot He seemed genuinely surprised after having signed the book you are now discussing to see you were in possession of a first edition copy of The Invention of Solitude his first published work He tells you it is probably worth a lot of money and you coyly respond as if I’m going to sell it Even if you did these experiences are priceless as are you come to realize all experiences Paul Auster is entering the winter of his life and you are exiting the winter of your youth a piece of which he now knows at least temporarily includes him