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Winter Journal [Hardcover]

Paul Auster
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Audio, CD, Audiobook 9.13  

Book Description

6 Sep 2012

On January 3, 2011, exactly one month before his sixty-fourth birthday, 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.

Composed in the manner of a musical fugue, the journal advances from one autobiographical fragment to the next, jumping backward and forward in time as the various themes intersect, bounce off one another, and ultimately merge in a great chorus of multiple voices, of one voice multiplied into many.

Writing in the second person, as if addressing himself as a stranger, which at the same time establishes an uncanny intimacy with the reader, 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 sexual desire as an adolescent to the ever deepening bonds of married love, from the shocks of violent accidents to an account of his mother's sudden death in 2002, 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.

Thirty years after the publication of The Invention of Solitude, his first book of prose, Paul Auster has now given us a second memoir of uncommon power and grace. Winter Journal is a book that looks straight into the heart of what it means to be alive.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (6 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571283209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571283200
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 297,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been short-listed for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (The Book of Illusions) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (The Music of Chance). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Description


'Here are evocative moments of reflection, on the indignities of youth and encroaching old age, each expressed with elegance and honesty. Auster chastises himself for past follies and offers up fresh wisdom.' --Fiona Sturges, Independent on Sunday

'An examination of the emotions of a man growing old ... this book has much to recommend it, and Auster is unsparingly honest about himself.' --Financial Times

'A positive tale about a journey to artistic and domestic fulfilment.' --Irish Times

'An examination of the emotions of a man growing old ... this book has much to recommend it, and Auster is unsparingly honest about himself.' --Financial Times

'A positive tale about a journey to artistic and domestic fulfilment.' --Irish Times

Book Description

Paul Auster's unforgettable account of the abandonment of his family by his father, told from the point of view of his mother.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This review appeared originally on [...]

I'm a huge Paul Auster fan and was excited to be given a proof of Winter Journal by Faber at this year's London Book Fair. My love for Auster is so intense that, a bit like anyone you love, you forgive them their occasional abuses because you love them so much. There have been a few books over the years that I have liked less then others but I forgive him those for his astonishingly good books such as `In The Country of The Last Things' (which is pretty much my favourite book ever). Thankfully, I needn't have worred, Auster took very good care of me with Winter Journal.

This book was written over Auster's sixty-fourth winter. Deeply personally but written in the second person we the reader flit back and forth over time as if we were living Auster's experiences. This book doesn't have a narrative arc or chapters or even sections, we only become aware that time has passed towards the end when Auster notices that New York is still cold in March. However once we let go of a need for story we learn so much about Auster, including key emotional experiences such as the effect his mother's death had on him and also how watching a dance performance just before his father's death freed him from a crippling writer's block. In addition to these key experiences we also learn so much more about Auster for example: about his relationship with his body including, the last time he was `permitted' to wet himself as a child; his passion for women, including the many prostitutes he slept with, and then his key relationships.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Auster's Winter Journal 29 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I didn't like all of it, the 'houses I have lived in' became rather tiresome, and the occasional unnecessary attempt at brutal honesty wasn't always to my taste, but the sincerity and integrity of the writing was compellingly moving throughout. A stream of conciousness narrative as if a whole life was brought into perspective in a single process of thought: no chapters, or headings, just occasional flights of fancy as one thought replaced another temporarily. It was a book about thought and feeling. There were 'events' but it was their effect and their memory that was the writer's theme. Especially intense were the episodes concerning his mother, wife, and father-in-law - whose tacit love was clearly an acknowledgment of the heroism of ordinariness, the importance of the normal, and the tenderness of gesture. It was also about moments. Those fleeting pages of a life where a door might have opened to a different life, and the ever burning question of whether the path I chose was the right one. In Auster's case there is no doubt. If you want to understand why we feel as we do about people we love, read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paul Auster's Winter Journal 26 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A keen fan of Paul Auster, his Winter Journal came from Amazon much earlier than I expected, and struck an instant chord with me. Young reviewers and critics may not realise that as you approach the winter years of your life you are very aware that you are going to lose your best friend, your constant companion through good times and bad - your own body and your own history. Your mind ranges over your life in no particular order and that is what Winter Journal does for Auster. A jewel of a book, joining his other non-fiction jewels. Read and think! Read and reflect! Enjoy and weep!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with Auster's best 27 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Brilliantly full of insights into writing and being human (even if that sounds grandiloquent). 'Writing begins in the body' is one such. Great.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant memoir 24 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked this autobiography presented in an informal journal fashion, where the author looks back over his life. The author writes about dealing with many of the important events we all face, such as love, marriage, kids, growing up/old, death, sickness. I found it at times funny, at other times moving.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging 4 Oct 2013
Format:Perfect Paperback
This quite passionate book is almost an autobiography written at the relatively tender age of 64 by an icon of American literature, but not quite. He is reticent about his two children and his sister, but quite open about the rest of both his parents' families short histories (and with a terrible family secret revealed only when he was in his early 20s). This reader is struck by PA's powers of memory and the clarity of his making sense of his life at different stages.
Another sign that this is not an autobiography is the near absence of references to what he is most famous for: a New York-based creator of works of art, mostly literature. Not a word about the challenge of the white page or about the books, poems and screenplays he wrote or the films he directed.
At another level this looks like a book of lists, about illnesses, injuries and other medical mishap. A list of all the houses/homes he has lived in, countries visited and for how long or about the number of US states he set foot in (40). A gold mine for future biographers. Towards the end of the book this listing habit returns with PA's favorite sweets, foods, soft drinks and stronger stuff. And his regrets about how harshly smoking has been restricted.
PA's turning point in life was meeting his wife of >30 years, Siri Hustvedt who has also become a highly respected novelist and essayist. PA quotes their daughter describing her identity as `Jewegian', reflecting her dad's Polish Jewish and mother's Norwegian Lutheran roots.
Find PA's title and final words too pessimistic. At 64 most people would rather view themselves as living in the Indian summer or autumn of their lives, not the start of winter. But his Wikipedia entry quotes him as saying that his drawer is empty, he has run out of ideas for another novel...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A ramble of memories, musings and minutiae.
Count me in as a longtime follower of Paul Auster's work, hoping that his latest book at 64 years old, a memoir "Winter Journal", would signal a return to form for Auster following... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Michael Murphy
2.0 out of 5 stars Paul Auster is my hero, BUT....
his work is really uneven.

this is not a good book. its quite boring, he should stick to fiction. Read more
Published 15 months ago by GeeeFlat
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant autobiography
If you enjoyed "The Invention of Solitude", then "Winter Journal" will come as a very interesting sequel although it is written in quite a different style. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Pauline
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating sojourn.
This is Auster at his insightful and inventive best. A reflective, capricious journey through his past - from childhood to present - is measured corporeally and conceptually. Read more
Published 16 months ago by brian mccann
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Loved this book, truly enjoyed it, another great book from my favorite author.
Can't wait to see what the next one will be like.
Published 16 months ago by laurence
1.0 out of 5 stars Winter Journal - Paul Auster
I was very disappointed with this book and probably would not purchase any more by this author. I often find that my choices on Amazon are not as good as when I go to the stores... Read more
Published 17 months ago by maz
4.0 out of 5 stars If you ever wanted to be a writer
If you ever wanted to be a writer, you would probably want to be Paul Auster, moody, intense, handsome in a lanky misfit kind of way. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. B. Eden
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and enjoyable book
Despite being a slow reader, it took just seven days to finish this book. Such is the absorbing quality of Auster's prose. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gurjit
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply what I expected
This book has to be read i nonjunction with all the others from Paul Auster in order to fully comprehend it. Read more
Published 19 months ago by eporrasf
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best
I love Paul Auster's work and his writing in this book is as beautiful as ever, however this is a rambling account of his own life written in the second person. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
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