Report from the Interior: A Memoir

Paul Auster. Holt, $27 (340p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9857-0
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In this companion to an earlier memoir also written in the second person, Winter Journal, Auster returns to many of the concerns of his 1950s childhood in South Orange, N.J., that ran like leitmotivs through his young life and helped forge the writer’s identity he would embrace by age 22. While Winter Journal explored the “manifold knocks and pleasures” of aging as well as his parents’ unhappy marriage, this volume delves into what had nourished his young mind and heart as a child up until age 12 (he was born in 1947), such as infatuation with early TV characters like Felix the Cat, aviation miracles, the jolt of seeing The War of the Worlds for the first time, meeting Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford (then wondering if he was an imposter), and enduring long stretches of reverie-inducing boredom. Shadows were cast over his youthful obliviousness as he began to “catch on” to what it meant to be a Jew in America (an outsider, often induced to change his name), to understand the gulf between white and black, rich and poor, and to marvel at the horrors endured by Korean War veterans. Yet “Interior” serves as only part one of this work, complemented by “Two Blows to the Head,” elaborate delineation of the plots of two “cinematic earthquakes” of his youth, The Incredible Shrinking Man and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang; “Time Capsule,” a revisiting of the first self-consciously writerly letters Auster wrote as a young Columbia University student to his then girlfriend, Lydia Davis; and photos of the various themes in “Album.” This erratically episodic, somewhat puzzling compendium rounds out the edges to Auster’s oeuvre. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 11/19/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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