Winter Journey by Paul Auster, abridged by David Roper

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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 David Roper.