|Photo taken from Goodreads|
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
"An old man awakens, disoriented, in an unfamiliar chamber. With no memory of who he is or how he has arrived there, he pores over the relics on the desk, examining the circumstances of his confinement and searching his own hazy mind for clues. Both chilling and poignant, Travels in the Scriptorium is vintage Auster: mysterious texts, fluid identities, a hidden past, and, somewhere, an obscure tormentor. And yet, as we discover during one day in the life of the man--identified only as Mr. Blank--his world is not so different from our own."
Needing answers, I searched some more about this novel and found that this was a book whose characters were from Auster's other books, as well as some future works. That was when understanding dawned on me: This story is partly autobiographical, I wish I could say more about this concept but it would ruin the suspense. Now, if this was not my first Auster read, I probably would have gotten it straight away. Therefore, advice to readers: Read this if you have already read other books by Paul Auster; if you have some on your TBR, bump them up and make sure to read them first before this book.
So confusion and subsequent enlightenment aside, the story was strangely engaging as Mr. Blank, the protagonist, struggled with his memory, read a report of a man on a mission, and pieced together said report's missing ending. A story within a story, the characters were equally intriguing and charismatic, although they seem more caricatures than real people - which is exactly what drew me to them, because they did not seem real, and never tried to be.
The writing style was very unique as Auster approached the narration as if watching from a surveillance camera. The reader, as if a voyeur, witnesses Mr. Blank's constant battle with his forgetfulness, the mystery of his room, as well as the bigger mystery of the people who calls and visits him during the day. The only knowledge that the reader is privy to without having to resort to monitoring him through the hidden camera and bugs is the old man's thoughts, which the narrator slips surreptitiously into the story.
I really regret not having read any of Auster's novels before, as he seemed to write very interesting and unique stories, and as it would help me get in on the joke way before I even finished reading this. In a way, it was funny to read something like Travels in the Scriptorium and find some very familiar names that you were introduced to and are now haunting you in this book.