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Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
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Report from the Interior (2013)

by Paul Auster

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After the Winter journal described the aging of the body, as an original approach to biography, Report from the interior is Paul Auster's latest publication. It consists of a collection of three texts, each autobiographical: "Report from the interior", "Two blows to the head" and "Time capsule". The quality of these three texts differs greatly, making Report from the interior as a whole a very unbalanced book.

Innovation is not always the way to go. The first text, "Report from the interior" is an autobiographical text, but written in the second person singular "you". This is an appropriate form, as it creates some distance, which benefits the text, as writing about one's earliest youth could have become very tacky and awkward if written in the first person singular. While "Report from the interior" is written as an autobiography of Paul Auster is can almost be read as an autobiography of any (American) "everyman". The text is simulateously as description of the author's youth, as it is a cultural analysis of growing up in the United States through the 1950s and 60s. Many television programmes, films and other cultural landmarks line the "curriculum vitae" of young Paul. Most of "Report from the interior" is still interesting to non-American readers as many television series and films were also aired in other countries, although, possibly, with a time lag. The first part of the book is illustrated with more than 50 pages black-and-white illustrations, referring to American visual culture. In the paperback edition these illustrations are included at the back of the book. Had they been inserted in the text, they would almost have outnumbered the pages with text. Added at the back, however, they are oddly disconnected. It feels like cheap filling.

"Two blows to the head" is the most disappointing section of the book, of almost 75 pages effortless filler. In the first few pages the author asserts that the movie "The incredible shrinking man (1957) had a decisive influence of the author. The following 70+ pages are a detailed retelling of the film. This section is just a waste, a loose filler-up of the most uninteresting twaddle. Supposedly a re-telling does not infringe on the copyright of the film, but it seems the cheapest trick by Auster to date.

However, any of the weakness of the book is made up for in the last section of the book, entitled "Time capsule". This is an engaging piece of relatively conventional autobiographical narrative. It offers a full experience of Auster's rich life experience, his experience in France and his development as a novelist. It makes up for any of the short-comings of the book as a whole. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Nov 12, 2014 |
I have mixed reactions to this new memoir from a Paul Auster. His observations and his life make for a good story, but the second-person narration (referring to himself as “you”) is off-putting and, eventually, annoying. And just when I got so I could ignore the style enough to appreciate the substance, Auster turns from a biography of his childhood to describing, in great detail, the plots of movies he watched. It is possible to glean interesting bits from Report from the Interior, but it was an overall disappointment. ( )
  RoseCityReader | Aug 5, 2014 |
I could read the first 100+ pages again and again. Reading this with Lydia Davis is like creative couples therapy. ( )
  objectplace | Apr 11, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I read this "memoir" in one sitting and then reread much of it trying to figure out if I enjoyed it or was bored to death by it. A little of both. I love books like this but in many ways this is not "a book like this". It is almost as if Auster's publisher said give me something -however scattered - by next week and we will publish it. Still, it is Paul Auster so there is much to be enjoyed here and a new reader should be encouraged to explore him deeply. Even half-baked he is a small delicious treat to be savored. ( )
  michaelg16 | Feb 5, 2014 |
You loved Winter's Tale, and figured this could even be better, billed as it was as a report of how his life felt from the inside. Well, it started out like that, and was quite good, but about a third of the way through he seems to have run out of steam, taking you not only outside of himself but way far away, into the plots of two movies, one of which takes him 40 pages to recount.

Still not done, with pages to go, he decides to copy down his letters to his girlfriend, at which point his use of the second person throughout, which has been getting rather tiring, is jarringly juxtaposed with the "you" of the letters, which of course refers to the girlfriend.

Then, finally, still not done, he concludes with pages of blurry black and white photos, many devoted to the movie again, with which you are already thoroughly bored.

"Contrived" is the word you used for "Invisible," the only novel you've read by Auster. Contrived this was too - and it will be your last book by him. ( )
  bobbieharv | Jan 29, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Auster, Paulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hastrup, RasmusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schroderus, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805098577, Hardcover)

Paul Auster’s most intimate autobiographical work to date

In the beginning, everything was alive. The smallest objects were endowed with beating hearts . . .

Having recalled his life through the story of his physical self in Winter Journal, internationally acclaimed novelist Paul Auster now remembers the experience of his development from within through the encounters of his interior self with the outer world in Report from the Interior.

From his baby’s-eye view of the man in the moon, to his childhood worship of the movie cowboy Buster Crabbe, to the composition of his first poem at the age of nine, to his dawning awareness of the injustices of American life, Report from the Interior charts Auster’s moral, political, and intellectual journey as he inches his way toward adulthood through the postwar 1950s and into the turbulent 1960s.

Auster evokes the sounds, smells, and tactile sensations that marked his early life—and the many images that came at him, including moving images (he adored cartoons, he was in love with films), until, at its unique climax, the book breaks away from prose into pure imagery: The final section of Report from the Interior recapitulates the first three parts, told in an album of pictures. At once a story of the times—which makes it everyone’s story—and the story of the emerging consciousness of a renowned literary artist, this four-part work answers the challenge of autobiography in ways rarely, if ever, seen before.

 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:09:27 -0400)

"Having recalled his life through the story of his physical self in Winter journal ... novelist Paul Auster now remembers the experience of his development from within through the encounters of his interior self with the outer world ... From his baby's-eye view of the man in the moon, to his childhood worship of the movie cowboy Buster Crabbe, to the composition of his first poem at the age of nine, to his dawning awareness of the injustices of American life, [this book] charts Auster's moral, political, and intellectual journey as he inches his way toward adulthood through the postwar 1950s and into the turbulent 1960s"--… (more)

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