Winter Journal by Paul Auster
Thirty years after publishing his first memoir The Invention of Solitude, Paul Auster returns with a bookend of sorts with his second memoir, which focuses on the effects of time and aging—both pleasurable and painful—on one's body and memory. Mr. Auster's most recent novel is The Brooklyn Follies, published in 2005.
Reviewer: Marie Arana
"Hurtling through the last half of “Winter Journal,” we are riveted by the author’s unstinting passion, his consummate humanity, his joy in words, his clinging to life, his ability to recognize grace in the unexpected..."
Reviewer: Heller McAlpin
"What saves all this from unbearable narcissism? Thoughtful ruminations on the nexus between the mundane and the meaningful, the physical and the emotional."
Reviewer: Meghan O'Rourke
"Written in the second person,...“Winter Journal” is a fragmentary and circuitous essay about aging that feels, a little too often, more sketched out than digested....Instead, Auster is at his best here when he lets himself be a storyteller, and the book warms up as he settles down to talk about key events in his life..."
Reviewer: James Campbell
"Possibly because the confidential speaker is conscious that others are eavesdropping, the tone of "Winter Journal" wobbles...."Winter Journal" is nevertheless an engaging book, like almost all of Mr. Auster's work. But, in common with his later novels, it feels as though it has been pulled from the oven too soon."
Reviewer: Michael Lapointe
"The method of Auster’s self-catalogue is free association, brief episodes falling like the snow outside his Brooklyn window, forming in collage a portrait of the artist as a young, aging and now old man....But the associative method occasionally strays into something like senility."
Reviewer: David L. Ulin
"Auster cannot quite maintain his focus, falling instead into a pattern of meandering recollections about his life, from childhood until the present, that are by turns moving and self-indulgent but never coalesce behind a larger point of view."
Reviewer: Robert Shrimsley
"This is one story whose ending we know and, while we can admire the honesty of a man weighed down in winter, the effect is akin to being caught by a once engaging but now failing acquaintance at a party. You can listen with sympathy but deep down you are itching to excuse yourself."
Reviewer: Phil Dyess-Nugent
"...most of what he remembers doesn’t seem particularly different from memories readers will easily be able to access first-hand. And Auster doesn’t make them any more fascinating with his familiar mandarin-of-Brooklyn prose style."
Reviewer: Kenneth Baker
""Winter Journal" styles itself as Auster's mature reckoning with mortality. But what we get is his account of singular life circumstances leading to a state of universal ordinariness. The book presents a paradoxical case of grandiose modesty, which makes a reader wonder why Auster took the trouble to write it."
Reviewer: J Robert Lennon
"Winter Journal is a terrible book – the kind of self-indulgent, ill-conceived, and poorly-edited disaster that makes you doubt whether or not you could truly have liked the works that preceded it."