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Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
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Travels in the Scriptorium (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Paul Auster

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1,582544,615 (3.25)80
Member:fitzlade
Title:Travels in the Scriptorium
Authors:Paul Auster
Info:Faber and Faber (2006), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Period:Contemporary, Origin:American, Genre:Fiction, Remark:Reviewed

Work details

Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster (2006)

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
I should mention up front that I have been a fan of Auster's novels for nearly as long as he's been writing them. That said, this is a deeply odd little book; I would call it minor Auster, more of a meta-novel than a straightforward narrative, involving an amnesiac elderly man haunted and imprisoned by a group of characters, trying both to recapture his memory of a life that might or might not have existed and to come to terms with his responsibility toward the various fates of those who -- perhaps literally, perhaps metaphorically -- imprison him. There is also a curious Borgesian story-within-a-story that I found as compelling as the main narrative. ( )
  ronhenry | Nov 17, 2015 |
A Twilight-Zone-type story, as if told by MC Escher. The mystery: who is the old man confined in this room, lacking memory, and why is he here? ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
This is my first Paul Auster book and I really love his writing. This book caught my attention right away.There was such a mystery surrounding it that I wanted to finish it all in one sitting. Right towards the end of the book, maybe the second to last part, I almost thought I was going to hate it. So close to the end and so much unexplained. Surprisingly, it ended very well and actually the surprise was not entirely unexpected... I was very close to guessing the mystery and didn't know it. I'm glad I came across this while browsing in the library and can't wait to read more of his books. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
This is a tricky book to talk about for those who haven't read it. On the one hand, I think it's the sort of thing where it's probably best if you go into it knowing as little about it as possible. On the other hand, I think it's also the sort of thing where if you approach it with the wrong expectations, the result might be really frustrating. So, well, I'll say this: it opens with an old man sitting in a white room without knowing where he is or how he got there or even quite who he is. And I'll also say that if, based on that, you're expecting a plot or a puzzle to solve, you're likely to be disappointed. Because what this book is doing is something much more... abstract.

I'll also say that the conceit, which I twigged to gratifyingly early on, is one that appealed to me, and that in the end the whole thing worked for me, in its own strange way. Whether it should have worked quite that well, I'm not at all sure. As soon as I finished it, I started thinking back on specific details, wondering exactly what they might mean or if they actually meant anything at all.

Basically, it's an odd little literary experiment of a book, but an interesting and I think a worthwhile one. And it's short enough that it can (and probably should) be read in one sitting. ( )
1 vote bragan | Jun 7, 2014 |
If you're not familiar with Paul Auster, this may not be the best place to start (I would highly recommend NY trilogy and City of Glass) but it follows the main tenants of experimental fiction very well...questionable main character and awareness of the characters as characters also. I just finished this one today and it's difficult to talk about without completely ruining the premise. As a criticism, I found it was too short and that it could have been another 100 pages easy with a more developed protagonist and story line. I was just starting to get really intrigued when it ended...I hate it when that happens. But, I will say I think Paul Auster is a kind of genius and I don't toss that word around lightly. ( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
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for Lloyd Hustvedt (in memory)
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The old man sits on the edge of the narrow bed, palms spread out on his knees, head down, staring at the floor.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805081453, Hardcover)

A man pieces together clues to his past--and the identity of his captors--in this fantastic, labyrinthine novel

An old man awakens, disoriented, in an unfamiliar chamber. With no memory of who he is or how he has arrived there, he pores over the relics on the desk, examining the circumstances of his confinement and searching his own hazy mind for clues.

Determining that he is locked in, the man--identified only as Mr. Blank--begins reading a manuscript he finds on the desk, the story of another prisoner, set in an alternate world the man doesn't recognize. Nevertheless, the pages seem to have been left for him, along with a haunting set of photographs. As the day passes, various characters call on the man in his cell--vaguely familiar people, some who seem to resent him for crimes he can't remember--and each brings frustrating hints of his identity and his past. All the while an overhead camera clicks and clicks, recording his movements, and a microphone records every sound in the room. Someone is watching.

Both chilling and poignant, Travels in the Scriptorium is vintage Auster: mysterious texts, fluid identities, a hidden past, and, somewhere, an obscure tormentor. And yet, as we discover during one day in the life of Mr. Blank, his world is not so different from our own.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Follow one day in the life of an amnesiac prisoner, who is visited by several enigmatic guests, but has no idea why he is locked up and under 24-hour surveillance.

(summary from another edition)

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