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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great New Title from the King of Prose - a review by Justine Solomons of Byte the Book
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...
Published on 5 Oct. 2012 by Justine Solomons

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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 the post-modern jiggery-pokery of Travels in the Scriptorium and Man in the Dark and the mediocre Sunset Park. Sorry to report, it was not to be. Winter Journal, though smoothly written, is not...
Published 22 months ago by Michael Murphy


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great New Title from the King of Prose - a review by Justine Solomons of Byte the Book, 5 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Hardcover)
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. These relationships include his first wife, the writer, Lydia Davis, whose writing style is definitely mirrored here with his intense interrogation of some subjects, and then the deep and profound love he has for his current wife, novelist Siri Hustvedt.

We also learn about all the places he's lived and his constant battle, despite on occasion limited resources, to keep writing. The writing process is a key theme of this book for me, and as it is written in the second person one really feels as though Auster is writing this book for you, whoever you are, as if you were a writer. One feels as though we are all connected to Auster, who describes himself as an `Everyman' - to use a line of Walt Whitman's, Auster `contains multitudes'. Also like Whitman, writing for Auster is a physical activity, he explains how important walking is for him, for that is where his ideas start to percolate, he tell us, `writing begins in the body, it is the music of the body'. Well I for one could listen to his music every single day of my life, I truly believe this man is a genius.

If you are a Paul Auster fan, enjoy beautiful prose, or want to learn more about being a writer, I suggest you make you sure you read this book.
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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
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Hardcover)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paul Auster's Winter Journal, 26 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Hardcover)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, 4 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Winter Journal (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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2.0 out of 5 stars A ramble of memories, musings and minutiae., 2 Aug. 2013
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Michael Murphy (Glasgow, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Winter Journal (Hardcover)
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 the post-modern jiggery-pokery of Travels in the Scriptorium and Man in the Dark and the mediocre Sunset Park. Sorry to report, it was not to be. Winter Journal, though smoothly written, is not one of Auster's best books (IMO). In Winter Journal, Auster observes his own life. What follows is a rambling account of Auster's impressions about any number of things that have touched his life at various stages. The reader does gain some insight into Auster the man - a man not afraid to publicly voice his opposition to America's continuing overseas misadventures, a man who speaks out his "manifold grievances against the evils of contemporary American life ... the senseless wars, the barbarism of illegal torture" and the CIA's 'torture-taxi' extraordinary rendition flights.

In Winter Journal, Auster breaks down his life into chronological stages and from each stage - from childhood, onwards into young adulthood, then mature adulthood, and on again into late middle-age - presents the reader with Auster memories, Auster musings about all sorts of things and masses of Auster minutiae arranged into lists.
Auster memories: some extremely emotional as in Auster's recollection of the death of his mother.
Auster musings: a ramble of musings about all sorts of things (eg, ten pointless pages rambling on about an obscure 1950's movie).
Auster minutiae: an overload of minutiae dredged up from different stages of his life eg, the swallowing of a fish bone that stuck in his throat/ details of cuts, scrapes, injuries sustained in the rough and tumble of boyhood/ three pages of the minutes taken from the board meetings of his co-op apartment in Brooklyn.

Be prepared to work through a mass of minutiae detailing very ordinary/ mundane Auster experiences many of which are arranged into long (and short) lists eg, a list of examples of food Auster ate as a young boy. Lists, and then more lists - a stylistic touch that was an annoyance (for this reader). Top of my hit list among Auster's overuse of lists must surely go the list of 'the houses I have lived in', comprising Auster's chronological description over some fifty pages of all twenty-three residences, houses or apartments, where he has ever at one time lived.

No, Winter Journal is in many ways a big disappointment, containing lots of padded out material and including all sorts of mundane stuff and masses of minutiae (everything, it seems, apart from Auster's kitchen sink is thrown into the mix). Winter Journal is a lightweight effort from Auster that fails (IMO) to captivate the reader like the old Auster magic of his younger days displayed in such novels as Moon Palace, The Music of Chance, The Book of Illusions, Mr. Vertigo and The New York Trilogy. Moreover, when measured against other Auster books in which Auster recollects his relationship with his father and recounts grim revelations about his family's past (The Invention of Solitude) and his early struggles with poverty (Hand to Mouth), Winter Journal falls far short. A final word on lists. For all its lists... and more lists, Winter Journal fails to make my list of favourite Auster books. Hopefully, his next book will! Count me out on this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant memoir, 24 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Kindle Edition)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply what I expected, 16 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Hardcover)
This book has to be read i nonjunction with all the others from Paul Auster in order to fully comprehend it. It is specially advisable to read his "other" partial biography, "The invention of solitude" in order to have a full picture of the author. This book also makes you reflect about how complicated and variable life is and what was the author doing while writing his other books. It is also very interesting to realize that Auster was not known until he was around 40 or something after having living all his life in a (apparent) caothic paste.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and enjoyable book, 23 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Hardcover)
Despite being a slow reader, it took just seven days to finish this book. Such is the absorbing quality of Auster's prose.

All the trademarks are there and those who enjoy his work will delight in the open and honest way in which he writes about his life.

Yes there are parts which seem somewhat self-indulgent and aimless, but these I think are offset by some genuine, heartfelt pieces of penmanship.

For fans of Paul Auster, I would certainly recommend it. For those less familiar, I'd start with the fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with Auster's best, 27 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Kindle Edition)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating sojourn., 27 April 2013
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This review is from: Winter Journal (Kindle Edition)
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. A fascinating sojourn, dark and humorous in equal measures. Highly recommended.
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Winter Journal
Winter Journal by Paul Auster (Hardcover - 6 Sept. 2012)
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