Thursday, March 25, 2010
TRAVELS IN THE SCRIPTORIUM by Paul Auster
My neighbour loaned me this little novel--the first I've read of Auster's-- because he said that Auster is his favourite American novelist. I can understand why, knowing that he is also a fan of Camus and St. Exupery.
Mr. Blank is the protagonist, an elderly man who seems either to be suffering from early Alzheimer's or brainwashing. He is kept in a sterile room that might be a prisoner's cell and every moment of his life is recorded by video and sound. There are a variety of supporting characters who come and go from his room, claiming to be doctors, lawyers, former colleagues, possible lovers. Because Mr. Blank is never quite sure of their identity, neither are we.
To help pass the time he reads a manuscript in loose leafed paper that sits on his desk next to a pile of framed photographs that are supposed to trigger memories of relationships past, most of which haunt him.
The book is unsettling and induced in me panic, which I'm sure was entirely the point, but if TRAVELS IN THE SCRIPTORIUM is typical of the kind of stories Auster tells, I won't be reaching for another one anytime soon.