Daily Archives: October 14, 2013

Book Review: Report from the Interior by Paul Auster

Report from the Interior by Paul Auster Title: Report from the Interior
Author: Paul Auster
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571303687
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoirs
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I have never read anything like this. I had said that about Winter Journal some time ago. Now I say it about Report from the Interior, written by the same author. “Report from the Interior” is quite a deceptive title and yet only apt when you start reading the book and getting to know more about the content and what it is about. There are very few books that I can reread and this one is definitely one of them which I will go back to sometime. Perhaps, this year itself.

“Report from the Interior” is about childhood. It is about Auster’s childhood but it could be about anyone’s childhood to be honest. He encounters the outer world with the experiences of his interior self and that is the beauty with which he documents it in this book. He speaks of his childhood most fondly at times and sometimes as matter-of-fact as it can get. From his view of the man-in-the-moon to cowboys to the magic of movies to war, he does not skip any topic of his growing-up years.

What is interesting is how the book emerges – how the stream of consciousness takes place as Paul the child grows up and starts noticing and making sense of life to some extent. The writing as usual is impeccable. There is not a single sentence which is out of place. Not a single word which should not have been there. The final piece of the book is told in pictures – of everything, almost everything he has written, linking memories – piece by piece and trying to make them perfect.

“Report from the Interior” can be read by anyone and everyone can connect with it. The idea of so-called, “growing-up” with what was and what is to come is identified by everyone. We have all lived through and experienced it. This book just makes you realize it, page by page. A wondrous read for the winter. A must read I would say.

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780241950425
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 192
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I think some books just remain, no matter when you read them. It doesn’t matter. They are beyond time perhaps. For me, The Catcher in the Rye is one such book. I have heard a lot of people say a lot of things, about it, however to me it still remains special. Why, you ask? Maybe because I read it at sixteen. Maybe because I read it when I was away from my family – the plot had some perspective I think. I didn’t want to be Holden, but certainly thoughts drifted in the manner he thought. J.D. Salinger knew what he was doing I think while writing this novel. What he didn’t know was the reaction or strings of actions would be created by this book.

Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon and had The Catcher in the Rye in his hand. John Hinckley Jr. attempted an assassination on Ronald Reagan in 1981 and one of the books owned by him was the one written by Salinger. There are several movie and television references to the novel as well. What is it about this book that evokes such reactions? Why? To my sixteen-year old mind, unwell and in bed, it was just another novel lent to me by my uncle and I had to read it. I read it. I loved it and that was it.

The Catcher in the Rye is not just another novel then. It is the voice of several generations of teenagers in the sense of the world. It is the world of angst and no sense of direction. Or maybe it is the voice of intellectualizing everything or trivializing it all. Holden Caulfield is more than an icon. He is someone who is trying to make sense of his life and life around him. It might appear to be as simple as this, when it is not or may be it is. He encounters people – different people as he takes off from his fancy school Pencey Prep and takes on his journey in New York City. This is where it all begins or almost.

The book was banned in most schools in the US of A. It is because of its vulgar language, which honestly I did not have a problem with then or now. To me the writing is just surreal, even after rereading it after fourteen years. It just manages to evoke the same sentiments in me and that is why I call it timeless. It talks about adolescence and its struggle like no other book. The Catcher in the Rye in that sense of the word is truly a classic and will be for years to come. I am glad I reread it. Thanks to my The Novel Cure Reading Challenge. It is guaranteed to cure angst of adolescence.

Next Up in the Challenge: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore

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