Travels in the Scriptorium is the most recent Paul Auster novel, and for once I haven’t read the last book first. It’s deliciously detailed, essentially a short story and a bit, like the New York trilogy that first made me fall in love with the guy. (Intellectual love, clearly, I’m not revoking the International Lesbian Covenant just yet.)
I love and could rave for hours about how his stories creep up on you. There you are, floating intently through his succint but breathtaking descriptive passages and suddenly you’re blown away by the quiet insertion of a plot point, or one of those Road-to-Damascus moments of clarity. His writing is of the genuinely gripping kind, where each slam-dunk moment leaves me torn between putting the book down to catch my breath (metaphorically and literally) and the tense desperation of being sure that I’ll kill the source of any interruption since I can’t bear to stop reading.
I’m a great lover of the in-joke: my lifelong habit of being in cliques, gangs and clubs extends to the immediate or the remote. I’m sure an outsider might take a perplexed enjoyment from this book, but the richness of having read his previous work makes this a complete headfuck, but the dawning realisation as one familiar name is jarred by another and suddenly inferences become outright references right in front of you. It’s craft, it really is.
I’m a sucker for parallel narratives, as evidenced by my dogged insistence that Crash damn well deserved its Oscar for Best Picture. The seamless interweaving of the story within the story, not to mention the slowly emerging relevance of his previous novels can almost leave you dizzy at points.
Perhaps my exuberance is fuelled by too much citric acid, the late hour or the fact that I look completely smokin’ tonight with straightened hair, a political slogan t-shirt and gently sparkling eyes. Then again, it might just be that Paul Auster is a God and his writing makes me high. I’ll leave it up to you decide.