Winter Journal

Holt. Aug. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780805095531. $26. LIT
Auster's prose has always seemed cold, treating life as if it were something that takes no hostages. His memories here, presented as a kind of journal after the fact, humanize him. The obsessions are still present: the feelings of inadequacy, the panic attacks that have sidelined his life occasionally. But he writes also of the joy of physicality, remembers places he lived, waxes lyrical about his second wife. His mother is a presence in this book, much as his father was in The Invention of Solitude (1982). Her later years were desperately unhappy, but Auster can't forget the time she played softball with his Cub Scout den: belting the ball over the fielder's head and rounding the bases, she was triumphant for one moment. If Auster still sees life as a series of close calls, he seems to have settled into living it, whereas in his earlier books, he sometimes seemed a stranger to the planet. Auster opined once, "I believe the world is filled with strange events." He applies that judgment to his own life as well, as this slim book of memories makes clear.
VERDICT Auster has many readers across his fiction and nonfiction. This book makes him a flesh-and-blood person and thus should prove appealing to his fans.
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