When a writer writes a journal or something close to a memoir, it takes a lot from him or her. I am safely assuming that because anything which is personal, when put to paper, leads to memories surfacing and that must be at some level, difficult to deal with. Memoirs or something close to them isn’t easy to document. “Winter Journal” by Paul Auster is one such book and I will add to this and say that it is not your regular kind of biography or journal or a slice of the writer’s life so to say. It is indeed different.
“Winter Journal” to me was more of a life lived and more years to go in the author’s life that was written about in the most beautiful manner. The book is written in the second-person narrative and I loved the approach for two reasons. Firstly, it is personal and yet detached from the self. Secondly, the narrative was easy to get into. Not at any point, did I feel that the book was boring or mundane and that says a lot for a collection of memories.
The best part of this book is that everyone can relate to some part or the other. When Auster writes of his mother and how she died and how he felt, I could co-relate it to my father’s death. The emotions are universal and Auster does a wonderful job of getting them right. I did not mind the fact that the book isn’t a traditional memoir. I loved that it was not that. The writing wrung me inside out. The pages when Paul Auster speaks of the twenty one homes he has lived in right from his birth made me think of the homes I had lived in and what does one truly call home?
Relationships are most extensively spoken about in the book. The ones he shared with his father and mother to his sister, his ex-wife, the love for his second wife, friends and children. Each relationship is connected with memories, thoughts and emotions that were enough to overwhelm me at various points.
The book is more of an elegy of aging, memory, loss and the relationship of the body and the soul to say. Winter Journal is personal and maybe that is why readers can connect to it, as it is written that way, without the impersonal. Paul Auster’s musings of his life till his sixty-four years is happy, sad, bittersweet and human above everything else. I remember the first time I started reading Auster, when I picked up The New York Trilogy, and since then I have read everything that he has written.
Winter Journal brings to surface life as is. The daily living and the losses that come with age and assessed in the later years are written about beautifully in this book. You should read this book if you want to connect and know about a writer’s life – the intimate details of writing as well, of memories that abound and life only but to be lived.
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