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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.)
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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 obscureor 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.
Since I was familiar with Paul Auster as a bit of a local literary icon, but had never dipped into his works I decided to check out this book from my Library's giveaway cart. Read morePublished on July 17, 2012 by Brooklyn Browser
I bought this book with enthusiasm, pursued it with mounting puzzlement, finished it deeply disappointed. Read morePublished on July 8, 2012 by Owen Brown
Paul Auster can write a sentence that makes you want to read it again and again, and then underline each word and finally add a check mark. Read morePublished on October 14, 2011 by M. Estorge
I felt a little like I did when I saw "The Sixth Sense." The novel was exactly what I expected it to be, with the only real surprise for me being the interaction between Mr. Read morePublished on December 29, 2010 by triskaidekaphilia
This is my very first Paul Auster experience and I really liked it although I can't quite clearly articulate why. The intelligence of the bizarre but coherent story of Mr. Read morePublished on November 5, 2010 by whj
quick read, sat down and was done in a few hours. auster is the best at telling a story within another story and travels is no exception. Read morePublished on October 15, 2010 by Heywould
Paul Auster is one of my favorite writers.
Many times, books spanning only one day don't have a proper flow to them but this book has a perfect flow to it. Read more
As much as I would have liked to have like this book, I couldn't. Reading the book in hopes that something surprising is going to happen - something unexpected and shocking. Read morePublished on January 9, 2010 by SMAX
Auster always surprises me with his stories. In Timbuktu I met a dog and saw the âõîëå story through the animal's point of view. Read morePublished on July 14, 2009 by Simon Cleveland