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Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312426291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426293
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,421,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On the centennial year of Samuel Beckett's birth, Auster's new novel nods to the old master. We open with a man sitting in a room. The man doesn't remember his name, and a camera hidden in the ceiling takes a picture of him once a second. The man—whom the third-person narrator calls Mr. Blank—spends the single day spanned by the book being looked after, questioned and reading a fragmentary narrative written by a man named Sigmund Graf from a country called the Confederation who has been given the mission of tracking down a renegade soldier named Ernesto Land. During the course of the day, a former policeman, a doctor, two attendants and Mr. Blank's lawyer visit the room, and Mr. Blank learns he is accused of horrible crimes. (His lawyer claims he is accused of everything "from conspiracy to commit fraud to negligent homicide. From defamation of character to first-degree murder.") But this may or may not be true—the narrative veers toward ambiguity. While Auster's lean, poker-faced prose creates a satisfyingly claustrophobic allegory, the tidy, self-referential ending lends a writing-exercise patina to the work. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Paul Auster dazzled the literary world two decades ago with the self-reflexive, playful New York Trilogy. A dozen novels later, he continues to draw on the familiar situations and themes that marked him as one of the most accomplished experimentalists. Critics often compare Auster's multilayered tales of colliding realities and lost identities to those of Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, and John Barth, though Travels in the Scriptorium finds a mixed critical reception. Current Auster fans will enjoy the intricate allusions and wordplay. Those coming to the author for the first time may find the book obscure—or worse, unengaging. For them, Moon Palace, In the Country of Last Things, or the New York Trilogy would be better novels for discovering the classic Auster.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Travels in the Scriptorium, The Brooklyn Follies, and Oracle Night. I Thought My Father Was God, the NPR National Story Project anthology, which he edited, was also a national bestseller. His work has been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Of course that this happens with many writers, but this is maybe too much.
WG
Paul Auster isn't the first novelist to place himself in his own work, to interact with his own characters.
Wayne-daniel Berard
I would recommend this book to those who like Auster and have read his of other stuff first.
NY Book Guy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on February 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
An elderly man awakens in a locked room furnished with little more than a bed, a desk and chair, and a small bathroom. He cannot remember who he is or why he is seemingly imprisoned in that room, but he notices four piles of manuscripts and a stack of photographs arranged neatly on the desk. Not long after he wakes, a nurse named Anna brings him breakfast, then washes and dresses him all in white, telling the old man (now given the name, for want of anything else, of Mr. Blank) that the whites were a special request of a Peter Stillman. A little later, another visitor named James P. Flood arrives and questions Mr. Blank desperately regarding the latter's past reference to "Flood's dream" from a book by Fanshawe titled Neverland. Throughout the day, Mr. Blank wonders about his circumstances - whether the door to his room is locked, whether his shade-drawn window can be opened - but he finds himself easily distracted by everything from sexual longing to discovering that his chair has wheels. He is visited again in the afternoon, first by his doctor, Samuel Farr, who wants to check on the progress of Mr. Blank's "treatment," by another nurse named Sophie, and finally by Daniel Quinn, who says he is Blank's lawyer.

As the day progresses, the old man slowly pierces a shroud of guilty feelings by learning that he is somehow responsible for the lives of many others whom he has dispatched on various missions. Strange but vaguely familiar names crop up - Farr, Fanshawe, Fogg. The old man begins devoting attention to the manuscript on the desk. He discovers that it is a report, written by a man named Sigmund Graf, about events in a country called the Confederation and a border outpost named Ultima at the edge of the Alien Territories.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
The first third of Travels in the Scriptorium is strange, ala Margaret Atwood. Why is this man caged up in this little room, and why is he being drugged? Who is he? During the course of the one day encompassed by this novel, visitor after visitor drops in and imparts a small nugget of information, which, as they accumulate, begin to fill in this picture. By the end of the second third, light begins to dawn on the reader, and the last third, to the finish, though still strange, is much more satisfying. Auster is not the first author to adopt the central premise of Travels, but he makes use of it in an original way.
Despite the caveats of other reviewers, I did not find my lack of familiarity with Auster's previous works any impediment. In fact, it probably added to the element of surprise.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By WG on March 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Before reviewing the latest Paul Auster novel, I'd like to point out a few things: I am a huge Auster fan. First, I saw Smoke, the movie, and even though I hate cigarretes, I found it simply beautiful. After that, I read The New York Trilogy and The music of chance. It's hard to describe these novels. While reading them, I felt like they were burning my hands, but I couldn't stop reading them. Late at night, when I could barely see, I kept telling to myself, one more chapter, another chapter, just a few more pages. Then I realized that the end was close, so finished them in less then two days. The music of chance was so hypnotic, that even if I had to walk some where, I would read while I was walking. That's the spell that these two novels pulled on me.

Now, I few years later, I went full circle. I read every single novel Auster wrote, so you can consider me a PaulAusterologist. Although I read a lot, Auster is the only author, prolific author (more than 7 novels) of which I read his whole work (novels) What did I found in this journey? He is very reiterative, very very. Most of his characters are some how in the writing business, if not writers. As he is. They went to Columbia. As he did. They speak french. As he does. They are avid readers. As he is. Of course that this happens with many writers, but this is maybe too much. Also, you always find the idea that little events, little decisions we make, can reshape our life in a blink. Last but not least, his characters are always commited to major tasks. Things that only they understand, but some how will be very important. Things that for unknown reasons, they must do. This is Paul Auster's world. And he is running out of ideas.

What about Travels in the scriptorium? Well, basically Auster is being visited by his characters.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on May 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The book, more a Novella than a Novel per se, is an interesting rendition by Auster. The character finds himself in whatever condition he does, which in this book is an old man with lagging memory and little mobility. His daily needs seem to be met, he seems to be undergoing some type of treatment, but in general, he receives the care and feeding that is necessary.

There does seem to be some type of elaborate psychiatric study going on, but the nature of the study and what may be its objectives are not revealed to the reader, except that it involves taking pills. It also creates great nausea, but much more than that, we do not know about the treatment. Thus Auster creates the conditions, the time, the place, the abilities and capacities of the protagonist, and the direction or purpose of the plot.

And in the end, Auster brazenly flaunts this power. He shows us that the character has precisely what he endows upon him. Auster, the Author is the one in charge of everything and everyone that interacts with his character. And aside from that, Auster, the Author has not yet decided what the next thing, next experience, next occurrence will yet be.

The book is recommended to all Auster readers and to those who are studying being writers and authors. The perspective Auster brings as Author is truly unique and worth the porthole he provides to us in this small Novel.
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