Report from the Interior
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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.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013
infinite, all-devouring night. If the earth was indeed round, you said to yourself, then the only safe place to be was the North Pole. No doubt influenced by the cartoons you loved to watch, you thought there was a pole jutting out from the North Pole. Similar to one of those striped, revolving columns that stood in front of barbershops. Stars, on the other hand, were inexplicable. Not holes in the sky, not candles, not electric lights, not anything that resembled what you knew. The immensity
swing with any force—not the baseball bat you had imagined it would be, but seven bats, twenty bats, and therefore you had trouble keeping it parallel to the ground, couldn’t orient it in a straight line because your wrists and arms were wobbling as you drove the dull blade into the tree, and after six or seven whacks you were so exhausted that you had to give up. You had managed to pierce the bark in a few places, bits of the gray membrane were curled upward to show the fresh green underside and
you didn’t belong, that even in the place you called home, you were not fully at home. To be a part of things and yet not a part of things. To be accepted by most and yet eyed with suspicion by others. After embracing the triumphal narrative of American exceptionalism as a little boy, you began to exclude yourself from the story, to understand that you belonged to another world besides the one you lived in, that your past was anchored in a somewhere else of remote settlements in Eastern Europe,
the minute hand on the old mechanical clock with the Roman numerals as you read your Poe and Stevenson and Conan Doyle, a self-declared outcast, stubbornly holding your ground, but proud, nevertheless proud in your stubbornness, in your refusal to pretend to be someone you were not. In your mind, it had little or nothing to do with religion. You were aligning yourself with the forces of powerlessness, hoping to find some moral or intellectual strength by acknowledging your difference from
dollars a day) was about all you could afford. The ever-droll, vastly talented Peter was a musician, and he was hoping to profit from his time in Paris by studying with Nadia Boulanger, the empress of French music teachers, while continuing to earn credits for his undergraduate degree. He got his wish and stayed on for two years working with her, returned to New York, finished up at Columbia, and for most of his adult life has been in Montreal, where he teaches at McGill and directs an orchestra