I began reading Paul Auster’s recent book, ‘Winter Journal’ and couldn’t put it down. Not a conventional autobiography, it is a beautifully written examination of Auster’s life as seen through the history of his own body. Writing in the second person as if addressing himself, he moves back and forth between his childhood, youth, his journey as a writer, marriages, deaths and all those experiences in life which make us who we are.
With this book lingering long after I had finished it I began reading Wallace Stegner’s ‘Crossing to Safety’ which was recently discussed on the ABC’s First Tuesday Bookclub. Although a work of fiction there were similarities with Auster’s work in style and construction. This, too, is in part the story of a successsful writer, Larry, looking back over his life and in particular at a complex friendship which played a major part in his life.
There was so much common experience in Larry’s and Auster’s lives that I found myself unconsciously substituting Auster for Larry while reading Stegner’s book. So without knowing it I had picked two holiday reads which transported me into two lives, two worlds which became for me at least, inextricably linked.
Both books are highly recommended for a holiday or whenever you have the time to curl up for a good read.