Travels in the scriptorium

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Travels in the ScriptoriumPaul AusterPicador (2006)Tags: Mystery Detective, Fiction, Suspense, General, Psychological, Authorship, Large Type Books, Visionary Metaphysical, Fiction - AuthorshipMystery Detectivettt Fictionttt Suspensettt Generalttt Psychologicalttt Authorshipttt Large Type Booksttt Visionary Metaphysicalttt Fiction - Authorshipttt

From Wikipedia

Travels in the Scriptorium is a novel by Paul Auster first published in 2007. Read more - Shopping-Enabled Wikipedia on Amazon

In the article:Plot | Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On the centennial year of Samuel Beckett's birth, Auster's new novel nods to the old master. We open with a man sitting in a room. The man doesn't remember his name, and a camera hidden in the ceiling takes a picture of him once a second. The man—whom the third-person narrator calls Mr. Blank—spends the single day spanned by the book being looked after, questioned and reading a fragmentary narrative written by a man named Sigmund Graf from a country called the Confederation who has been given the mission of tracking down a renegade soldier named Ernesto Land. During the course of the day, a former policeman, a doctor, two attendants and Mr. Blank's lawyer visit the room, and Mr. Blank learns he is accused of horrible crimes. (His lawyer claims he is accused of everything "from conspiracy to commit fraud to negligent homicide. From defamation of character to first-degree murder.") But this may or may not be true—the narrative veers toward ambiguity. While Auster's lean, poker-faced prose creates a satisfyingly claustrophobic allegory, the tidy, self-referential ending lends a writing-exercise patina to the work.(Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

Travels in the ScriptoriumPaul AusterPicador (2006)Rating:★★★☆☆Tags:Mystery Detective, Fiction, Psychological, General, Suspense, Large Type Books, Authorship, Fiction - Authorship, Visionary MetaphysicalMystery Detectivettt Fictionttt Psychologicalttt Generalttt Suspensettt Large Type Booksttt Authorshipttt Fiction - Authorshipttt Visionary Metaphysicalttt

From Wikipedia

Travels in the Scriptorium is a novel by Paul Auster first published in 2007. Read more - Shopping-Enabled Wikipedia on Amazon

      In the article:Plot | Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On the centennial year of Samuel Beckett's birth, Auster's new novel nods to the old master. We open with a man sitting in a room. The man doesn't remember his name, and a camera hidden in the ceiling takes a picture of him once a second. The man—whom the third-person narrator calls Mr. Blank—spends the single day spanned by the book being looked after, questioned and reading a fragmentary narrative written by a man named Sigmund Graf from a country called the Confederation who has been given the mission of tracking down a renegade soldier named Ernesto Land. During the course of the day, a former policeman, a doctor, two attendants and Mr. Blank's lawyer visit the room, and Mr. Blank learns he is accused of horrible crimes. (His lawyer claims he is accused of everything "from conspiracy to commit fraud to negligent homicide. From defamation of character to first-degree murder.") But this may or may not be true—the narrative veers toward ambiguity. While Auster's lean, poker-faced prose creates a satisfyingly claustrophobic allegory, the tidy, self-referential ending lends a writing-exercise patina to the work.(Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

TRAVELS INTHE SCRIPTORIUM

PAUL AUSTER

 

 

for Lloyd Hustvedt

(in memory)

Table of Contents

 

Title PageDedicationThe old man sits on the edge of the narrow bedIt should be noted that in additionIt should be noted that a second cameraNow Anna is goneMr. Blank pauses for a momentFar off in the distanceNow Flood is goneNow Mr. Blank is in the bathroomThe moment Mr. Blank comes to the endNow Mr. Blank is sitting in the chair againMr. Blank tosses the typescript onto the deskMr. Blank is about to continueNow Sophie and Mr. BlankNow Sophie is goneWhen the action resumesMr. Blank has been talking steadilyNow Quinn is goneBy now, Mr. Blank has read all he can stomachAbout the AuthorCopyright

The old man sits on the edge of the narrow bed, palms spread out on his knees, head down, staring at the floor. He has no idea that a camera is planted in the ceiling directly above him. The shutter clicks silently once every second, producing eighty-six thousand four hundred still photos with each revolution of the earth. Even if he knew he was being watched, it wouldn’t make any difference. His mind is elsewhere, stranded among the figments in his head as he searches for an answer to the question that haunts him.

Who is he? What is he doing here? When did he arrive and how long will he remain? With any luck, time will tell us all. For the moment, our only task is to study the pictures as attentively as we can and refrain from drawing any premature conclusions.

There are a number of objects in the room, and on each one a strip of white tape has been affixed to the surface, bearing a single word written out in block letters. On the bedside table, for example, the word is TABLE. On the lamp, the word is LAMP. Even on the wall, which is not strictly speaking an object, there is a strip of tape that reads WALL. The old man looks up for a moment, sees the wall, sees the strip of tape attached to the wall, and pronounces the wordwallin a soft voice. What cannot be known at this point is whether he is reading the word on the strip of tape or simply referring to the wall itself. It could be that he has forgotten how to read but still recognizes things for what they are and can call them by their names, or, conversely, that he has lost the ability to recognize things for what they are but still knows how to read.

He is dressed in blue-and-yellow striped cotton pajamas, and his feet are encased in a pair of black leather slippers. It is unclear to him exactly where he is. In the room, yes, but in what building is the room located? In a house? In a hospital? In a prison? He can’t remember how long he has been here or the nature of the circumstances that precipitated his removal to this place. Perhaps he has always been here; perhaps this is where he has lived since the day he was born. What he knows is that his heart is filled with an implacable sense of guilt. At the same time, he can’t escape the feeling that he is the victim of a terrible injustice.

There is one window in the room, but the shade is drawn, and as far as he can remember he has not yet looked out of it. Likewise with the door and its white porcelain knob. Is he locked in, or is he free to come and go as he wishes? He has yet to investigate this matter – for, as stated in the first paragraph above, his mind is elsewhere, adrift in the past as he wanders among the phantom beings that clutter his head, struggling to answer the question that haunts him.

The pictures do not lie, but neither do they tell the whole story. They are merely a record of time passing, the outward evidence. The old man’s age, for example, is difficult to determine from the slightly out-of-focus black-and-white images. The only fact that can be set down with any certainty is that he is not young, but the wordoldis a flexible term and can be used to describe a person anywhere between sixty and a hundred. We will therefore drop the epithetold manand henceforth refer to the person in the room as Mr. Blank. For the time being, no first name will be necessary.

Mr. Blank stands up from the bed at last, pauses briefly to steady his balance, and then shuffles over to the desk at the other end of the room. He feels tired, as if he has just woken from a fitful, too-short night of sleep, and as the soles of his slippers scrape along the bare wood floor, he is reminded of the sound of sandpaper. Far off in the distance, beyond the room, beyond the building in which the room is located, he hears the faint cry of a bird – perhaps a crow, perhaps a seagull, he can’t tell which.

Mr. Blank lowers his body into the chair at the desk. It is an exceedingly comfortable chair, he decides, made of soft brown leather and equipped with broad armrests to accommodate his elbows and forearms, not to speak of an invisible spring mechanism that allows him to rock back and forth at will, which is precisely what he begins to do the moment he sits down. Rocking back and forth has a soothing effect on him, and as Mr. Blank continues to indulge in these pleasurable oscillations, he remembers the rocking horse that sat in his bedroom when he was a small boy, and then he begins to relive some of the imaginary journeys he used to take on that horse, whose name was Whitey and who, in the young Mr. Blank’s mind, was not a wooden object adorned with white paint but a living being, a true horse.

After this brief excursion into his early boyhood, anguish rises up into Mr. Blank’s throat again. He says out loud in a weary voice: I mustn’t allow this to happen. Then he leans forward to examine the piles of papers and photographs stacked neatly on the surface of the mahogany desk. He takes hold of the pictures first, three dozen eight-by-ten black-and-white portraits of men and women of various ages and races. The photo on top shows a young woman in her early twenties. Her dark hair is cropped short, and there is an intense, troubled look in her eyes as she gazes into the lens. She is standing outdoors in some city, perhaps an Italian or French city, because she happens to be positioned in front of a medieval church, and because the woman is wearing a scarf and a woolen coat, it is safe to assume the picture was taken in winter. Mr. Blank stares into the eyes of the young woman and strains to remember who she is. After twenty seconds or so, he hears himself whisper a single word: Anna. A feeling of overpowering love washes through him. He wonders if Anna isn’t someone he was once married to, or if, perhaps, he isn’t looking at a picture of his daughter. An instant after thinking these thoughts, he is attacked by a fresh wave of guilt, and he knows that Anna is dead. Even worse, he suspects that he is responsible for her death. It might even be, he tells himself, that he was the person who killed her.

Mr. Blank groans in pain. Looking at the pictures is too much for him, so he pushes them aside and turns his attention to the papers. There are four piles in all, each about six inches high. For no particular reason that he is aware of, he reaches for the top page on the pile farthest to the left. The handwritten words, printed out in block letters similar to the ones on the strips of white tape, read as follows:

Viewed from the outermost reaches of space, the earth is no larger than a speck of dust. Remember that the next time you write the wordhumanity.

From the look of disgust that comes over his face as he scans these sentences, we can be fairly confident that Mr. Blank has not lost the ability to read. But who the author of these sentences might be is still open to question.