The Red Notebook is a novel by the American author Paul Auster.
Paul Auster is one of those annoying people that not only have interesting things happening to them seemingly all the time, but also have a talent that enables them to describe these events, in such a way that other people actually want to read about it.
The Red Notebook is divided into three parts and a bit:
The first third is confusingly, but fittingly called "The Red Notebook" and contains thirteen small anecdotes about more or less interesting things that have happened to Auster during his life. I found them quite refreshing and interesting.
The second third is prefaces from three books that Auster has translated - I think, the prefaces don't have any forwords, so I can't be sure. I found this part quite uninteresting, and didn't manage to read all of the longest one, which is on "Twentieth-Century French Poetry", a subject that holds no interest to me. The essay on "Mallarmé's Son" is a bit more interesting, even if you (like me) got no idea as to who or what "Mallarmé" is. The last preface, called "On The High Wire", is about a French High Wire artist by the name of Philippe Petit. I normally love prefaces, but I never imagined that they could be this uninteresting. My point is that prefaces should stay stuck in front of the stories they where supposed to preface. French poetry would probably interest somebody who has picked up a book on this subject, but it doesn't work when the subject is "Paul Auster".
The last third is three different interviews with Auster. There's a bit of overlapping between the three interviews, but it's not much. This is the real meat of the book, if you are interested in Auster. The last one is from 1990, so if you want something more recent you'll have to look elsewhere.
The last two and half page is "A Prayer for Salman Rushdie".
This book is truly a mixed blessing. Few people will love all of it, but I think that even non-Auster fans will find things to love in this book. It may even be a useful introduction to the literature of Auster, thanks to the interviews.
(This book isn't published on it's own in the US, but it seems to be included in "The Art of Hunger", but that may be just the first third).
Written on 2nd August 2001 by TC.
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