Report from the Interior

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Report from the Interior," by Paul Auster

Paul Auster is a contemporary literary giant, often mentioned alongside John Updike and Saul Bellow and responsible for such bestsellers as "Leviathan," "The Book of Illusions," and the "New York" trilogy.

In his latest book, however, he takes a quiet step back into his life. He's no stranger to the memoir, but "Report from the Interior" is astonishingly intimate. When I read this book, I imagine I'm sitting in a dark room with him, just the two of us, listening to him tell story after story of his younger years.

Perhaps what makes "Report from the Interior" so intimate is its point of view. The entire book is written in second person, as if he is recalling these memories to himself. In addition, there are three "chapters" in the entire 273 pages. His book reads, I imagine, like his mind, in stream of consciousness not to be broken up into individual moments.

"Report from the Interior" is not about Auster's childhood, or his young adulthood, or his experience writing, but rather all three and then some. Born in 1947, Auster recounts his first experience reading, noting, "The language of 'Kidnapped' and 'Treasure Island' was too difficult for you at that age (about eight), but you manfully struggled through the less bulky 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde,' even if most of it went sailing clear over your head as well."

He also recounts the years he became aware of injustice, of his political ideologies and his journey from childhood to adulthood.

He concludes "Report from the Interior" uniquely from many autobiographies, in a picture album that once again tells his story. This book, as is typical for Auster, is a trek off the nonfiction path.

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