In reading the second section of Paul Auster’s Winter Journal, I was struck by the vividness of his pubescent memories & more importantly, the vividness of pubescent memories that stirred within me. I love the humor he used to describe the yearnings of puberty and humanity used in dealing with sexuality. One story (of a French prostitute) is so tender & sweet that it almost seems like complete bullshit. Had every other part of this book not been filled which such obvious honesty, this story would be completely unbelievable. But it is true. You know that it is.
Oh, and the “fireman” between his legs that he contemplated at five, comes back. Maybe this section is more enjoyable to men because we laugh knowing we thought & felt it too, but it is still damn good precise writing.
Auster is such a pleasure to read because he does not dawdle in masturbatory passages of over-description. He simply knows & uses the minimal amounts of words required to ignite your imagination. I don’t know that I had consciously noticed this until now, but modern writers write too goddamn much. Blabbermouths with word-processors. We don’t need to read a whole paragraph describing one jacket. Is it leather? Black? Motorcycle style? Got it. That’s all we fucking need. I don’t give a good goddamn if the sleeves are tattered. Unless that’s gonna cause a problem later then skip it. Get to the meat. Auster is a master of this. Auster is all meat.
What was is it that Elmore Leonard says?
“Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
Somebody else said (i don’t remember who) that if it’s boring to write it’ll be boring to read. Maybe that was Elmore Leonard too.