BBC Radio 4, 3-7 September 2012
In this memoir author Paul Auster reflects on his life at the age of sixty-four.
Still of sound mind and body, despite the fact that he enjoys regular cigars and alcohol, he believes that the time has
come to write down his memoirs, perhaps as a preparation for death, which might follow at any time.
The inspiration for the book seems to originate from the memory of his father,
who died so prematurely that no one - least of all Auster himself - seemed prepared for it. Auster does not want
to make that mistake; hence the book.
We follow the author as he reflects on his early life in the mid-1960s. He travels
to Paris where he enjoys the delights of legalized prostitution, falls in love and ends up sharing an apartment. There
he meets some genuine eccentrics, including an anti-semite who talks about previous Jewish residents having simply "gone
away" during the Second World War, and an irate neighbour who objects to Auster's girlfriend playing Mozart and
Bach on the piano during the afternoon.
The most interesting aspect of this piece is that it is told in the second person
singular - almost as if Auster treats his past self as a close relative with whom he is permanently conversing. This renders
the book strangely impersonal, even though it is a personal reminiscence. Garrick Hagon's reading, with its warm, generous
tones, humanizes it somewhat, but it's quite a strange experience listening to it. The adapter, as well as the producer, was