Journey of a lonely mind

With this memoir, composed, like his letters, with “love and fatigue,” Auster takes another, admittedly imperfect, step toward that elusive goal.

Children play with log cabin toys, known to generations by the brand name Lincoln Logs.of children
Photo by: Reuters
Paul Auster launched his career three decades ago with a memoir. In The Invention of Solitude (1982), he began his literary search for identity and personal meaning with an affecting account of his hardworking, emotionally distant father. Recently, after completing more than three dozen volumes of fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry, screenplays and translations, Auster has returned to autobiography. In Winter Journal (2012), he offered a homage to his mother, an examination of the end of his first marriage, and “a catalogue of sensory data” designed to document the fragility of his aging physical self. In Report From The Interior, Auster tries to recreate his perceptions of the outside world, from his birth in Newark, New Jersey, in 1947 to his relationship with his middle-class Jewish parents and his graduation from Columbia University during the tumultuous 1960s. Written in the second person, the memoir has its moments. At times, however, Auster does not delve deeply enough into the interior to engage his readers in his quest to understand his journey into the lonely mind.

Report From The Interior often has the ring of authenticity. For young children, Auster writes, “boredom must not be overlooked as a source of contemplation and reverie.” Alone, “uninspired and at loose ends, too listless or distracted” to set up his Lincoln Logs or Erector Set or “fill in a page in his stupid coloring books,” and too young to read or call a friend on the telephone, Paul often sat by the window, wishing he owned a horse or a dog and musing on eternal questions, like why do we exist and where do we go when we die.

Read More..., the online edition of the Jerusalem Post Newspaper - the most read and best-selling English-language newspaper in Israel. For analysis and opinion from Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East. offers expert and in-depth reporting from Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East, including diplomacy and defense, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Arab Spring, the Mideast peace process, politics in Israel, life in Jerusalem, Israel's international affairs, Iran and its nuclear program, Syria and the Syrian civil war, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel's world of business and finance, and Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora.

All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2013