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Travels in the Scriptorium

3.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,465 Ratings  ·  603 Reviews
A man pieces together clues to his past--and the identity of his captors--in this fantastic, labyrinthine novel

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.

Determining that he i
Hardcover, 145 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published January 1st 2005)
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The New York Trilogy by Paul AusterMoon Palace by Paul AusterThe Book of Illusions by Paul AusterThe Brooklyn Follies by Paul AusterInvisible by Paul Auster
Best Paul Auster Books
16th out of 21 books — 79 voters
Animal Farm by George OrwellDracula by Bram StokerThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Reading Through an Archival Lens
18th out of 68 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 22, 2007 Katie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who have read and enjoyed other Auster books
First things first: I am an Auster fan. I’m not sure I’d have been able to enjoy this book were I unfamiliar with his work. Yes, its gotten mixed reviews. Yes, it is self-referential. (Honestly, is this a surprise to anyone? Get over it.) Worth reading for Auster-philes? Without a doubt.

The issues Auster takes on in this novella (really, it’s only about 150 pages) are familiar to his readers: questions of identity, memory, the nature of narrative, among others. The writing is tighter, more comp
Apr 07, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All established Auster Fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bill  Kerwin
Oct 02, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it

Light-weight meta-fiction. Not much going on here really, but--as always with Auster--his style makes it worthwhile.
Mar 05, 2012 Tory rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: absolutely no one.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gertrude & Victoria
I have to say this was the worst Paul Auster book I've read, and I've read most of his works. If you must read Travels in the Scriptorium, it is best that you keep your expectations in check. That way you won't be bitterly disappointed. From the very first words I thought this story was going nowhere. I was correct. When I had finished it it had gone nowhere. It was a tedious read. And a bore. At least though, the second half was a little better than the first, but overall I thought it was a lam ...more
M. Sarki
Aug 11, 2013 M. Sarki rated it really liked it
Notes while reading this book: I can say that after reading the first twenty-three pages I am hooked. So much going on for me here. I especially enjoyed the sponge-bath happy ending. Beautifully done.

Immediately thinking of Quentin Tarantino's Mr. Black, Mr. Pink, in Austen's character Mr. Blank. The mystery. Also the simple and sparse theater set in the novel reminds me of a stage play being acted out and a response of some sort to Endgame by Samuel Beckett. Again, the mystery is what does it f
Feb 12, 2009 Xysea rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Paul Auster fans, people who like quick reads
Okay, well I read this entire book (90 pages) within a few hours in the Barnes & Nobles. Truth be told, I read it there for two reasons: (a) I have been told to read something by Paul Auster by a few people and (b) I didn't want to pay $16.00 for it.

(My daughter read the Guiness Book of World Records for Kids, lol)

It's an interesting story within a story. The writing, initially, is pretty solid, pretty tight. But the story is hard to keep interested in. A lot of the plot is a description of
Erika Jhanie
Mar 14, 2013 Erika Jhanie rated it really liked it
“What the fuck was that?!”, I cried at the very last sentence.
I planned to read another book right after finishing it but no, Auster wouldn’t let me go. I had to make sense of it. I had to understand. I had to.

So I retold myself the significant parts, read back on the details I thought I might be missing and tried to analyze what it was all about.

This book is basically about how the characters and stories created by people, especially writers are bound to haunt them.

Auster illustrated the str
Travels in the Scriptorium opens like this: a man, known only as Mr. Blank, is apparently imprisoned within a room. He remembers snippets of his childhood, but nothing of how he came to be in the room, and has little to no recollection of his adult life. During the course of the story, he is visited by a number of people - two women who take on nurse/carer roles, an ex-policeman, a lawyer and so on - and recognises them only vaguely, if at all. He contemplates escaping from the room, but seems i ...more
I'm not the biggest Paul Auster fan. In fact, I've never really read any of his other books. I got attracted to this book because of its odd cover and a recommendation from another person new to Auster's worlds and he loved it.

This is a terrible place to start for any Auster virgin because from what I can gather, its a bunch of in-jokes from characters that were in his previous novels. Like all meta-fiction, things take a turn for the absurd and questions of truth, art and honesty run abound.

Elham Ghafarzadeh
Dec 03, 2014 Elham Ghafarzadeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, fiction, mystery
بعد از کشور آخرینهای پل استر مدتها بود که هیچ کتابی منو شگفت زده نکرده بود اما باز هم پل استر در کتابی دیگر منو کاملا به وجد آورد. این کتاب با ایدهی جالبی که داره و توصیفات دقیقی که ارائه میده با ذهن خواننده به راحتی و با ظرافت بازی میکنه و در نهایت درست وقتی که ذهن آرام گرفته اونو به هیجان مییاره... توصیه میکنم اول کتاب "کشور آخرینها" رو بخونید از پل استر بعد بیایید سراغ سفر در اتاق تحریر ( همونطور که دوستی به من این توصیهی ارزشمند رو کرد)
اما به این کتاب 5 ستارهی کامل رو ندادم چون انتهای ِبسیا
Nov 05, 2014 TK421 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Atmospheric and disorientating. Like being caught in a fun house that is located on the tilt-a-whirl. While most readers will be able to put the pieces of the overall story together, the individual parts of the story are harder to solve. A welcome departure from what I have been reading recently.

Like Alexander taking his sword to the Gordian Knot, Paul Auster chops away at the knotty loop he's tangled throughout Travels in the Scriptorium -- inelegantly solving the very problem he created while invalidating the reader's input.

Until the ending, this was an obtuse work and brilliant for it's wide angle of perspective because the potential meanings were myriad. Mr. Blank could have been anyone. His crimes could have been anything. His victims could have been everyone or no one. This was a
Trixie Fontaine
The first Paul Auster I've read where I totally get why some people dislike not just him, but his writing.

Felt like a little self-indulgent quick smarty-pants bullshit project/trick, or maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough to appreciate it. Glad it was short or I never would have finished it (though, annoyingly, it IS something you feel like you need to get to the end of which only helps make you feel manipulated into "getting" it in more ways than one).

I guess I was supposed to feel really d
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Feb 27, 2013 Elizabeth (Alaska) rated it liked it

So bizarre, I was actually frustrated at one point. That might have been more because of other life-happenings than because of the book, so I will discount the frustration part. But only a little.

I picked this up at the library book sale, knowing Auster is on the 1001 list. I didn't have the list with me, and hoped this would be among his titles. It isn't. Neither is the other one I picked up at the same time, but I'll happily read it. Also those titles that are on the list. In spite of
Oct 20, 2015 Chalchihut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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I watched Black Mirror (TV-series) last week (also have to add that it’s already one of the best series I’ve ever watched) and this book reminded me of S2E2. I have been googling to find a connection, but haven’t found so far. I think the book might have been the inspiration for that episode.

It is a short book of 130 pages and has a concept of which I wouldn’t comment about, because it would spoil the book since what’s going on is a mystery. We might bump into si
Aug 07, 2012 Jandri rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Patinazo de Auster, una novela de misterio tiene como misión primordial enganchar desde la página -1.
Traspasado el meridiano de la historia hay una composición muy interesante sobre como desarrollar una idea para un libro de manera veloz, pero escaso bagaje para tan gran escritor.
No es el Auster que conocí, tampoco es la clásica historia de Auster, te lo diré sin concesiones: "zapatero a tus zapatos".
Dec 06, 2015 Yasamin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persian
سریسلی؟ :| نه واقعا؟
تا قبل از چند صفحه ی آخر تصمیم داشتم سه بدم ولی با این اتفاقی که پایان داستان افتاد...
حقیقتا باید بگم که این دو یی که میدم برای اینه که طرز نوشتن نویسنده رو دوست داشتم و اینکه طوری بود که دوست داشتم ادامه رو بخونم بدون اینکه خسته بشم یا هرچی...
ولی خب با این پایانش :| قشنگ خورد تو ذوقم :|
Too much complicity for an unfulfilled goal. When you start the book, soon you realize " Yesss,this is a complicated story ". it indeed is, but for what price?!
as the story goes on, you've got this sense that " where are the clues ?". you feel like more ties should have been opened till now. the writer refuses to open his hand for you and unfortunately he just makes it harder for himself by making you expect more and more for an absolutely dramatic ending, a dramatic ending that never came.
Dec 05, 2011 Caitlin rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roozbeh Estifaee
Sep 16, 2009 Roozbeh Estifaee rated it liked it
Paul Auster has definitely gotten some brilliant ideas. In this one also he had showed one of those nice things. The old guy who wakes up and finds himself in a completely strange room. And a writer who is moving the whole thing, doing whatever he wants to his characters. Things have been nicely related and formed an elaborated story.
The best part in my opinion was near the end of the book, when the old guy, Mr Blank, is making up the rest of the half finished he has read before that day. He doe
Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D. Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D.
Auster always surprises me with his stories. In Timbuktu I met a dog and saw the whole story through the animal’s point of view. In Travels In The Scriptorium I meet an old man with suffering from amnesia, but portrayed in a sense that embodies us, the readers. Mr. Blank (strange name for a character), wakes up one morning in a room of what appears to be some sort of sanatorium. Except Mr. Blank feels strangely like a prisoner in this place. The windows are bolted; the room is completely bare, y ...more
Narjes Shabani
وقتی تصمیم میگیری به دنیای اتاق نسخه برداری سفر کنی نام هایی به چشمت می خورد که برایت آشناست. بعضی هاشان را می شناسی و بعضی دیگر را نه. بستگی دارد که پیش از این چقدر به اتاق نسخه برداری پل استر سفر کرده باشی و تا چه حد با کتاب های قبلی اش آشنا باشی، تازه آنوقت است که هر نامی که میخوانی برایت آشناست. اما اگر مانند شخصیت اصلی سفر در اتاق نسخه برداری حافظه ات ضعیف باشد، باید تکه ای کاغذ برداری و هر اسم را رویش بنویسی. آنوقت است که آقای بلنک را بهتر و بیشتر درک می کنی و لذت خواندن یک رمان پست مدرن ب ...more
Amante Libri
"Vista dalle più remote distanze spaziali, la Terra non è più grande di un granello di polvere. Ricordatevelo, la prossima volta che scriverete la parola 'Umanità' ".

Mr Blank è chiuso in una stanza, forse un carcere o forse un ospedale psichiatrico, lui non lo sa e non sa neppure niente altro: non ricorda luoghi, nomi, circostanze, è totalmente spaesato e il suo passato è un mistero per lui come lo è il motivo per cui è rinchiuso in quella camera.
Tutto si svolge nell'arco di una giornata durante
Farnoosh Noroozi
هرچند ممکنه آدم تو روال دایرهوار داستان گیج و گم بشه ولی باز هم اینقدر ایدهپردازی و داستانسرایی "پل اُستر" قوی و روونه که آدم چشم باز میکنه میبینه عجیب مجذوب داستان شده. برای من قلم اُستر همیشه جذاب بوده؛ حتی پایانبندیهای منحصر به فردش هم کمکم داره برام معنا پیدا میکنه… ...more
Jan 27, 2008 Courtney rated it did not like it
I guess this is one of those cases of why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. I had high expectations, but this book just didn't measure up. If it wasn't such a short book, I probably would have thrown in the towel half way through.
Sep 09, 2010 Henrik rated it liked it
When I read this I did not know it was largely based on Auster himself and his fictive universe so far (as other reviews have since told me). It was an odd, yet intriguing man-without-memory-in-a-small-room story.
Gaby Juarez
Apr 29, 2016 Gaby Juarez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Al ser este mi primer encuentro con Paul Auster, desconozco del todo si hice bien en empezar por este libro o no, he leído varios comentarios sobre este libro donde se lee que no es la narrativa habitual del escritor (a la que tiene acostumbrado a sus lectores), este es un libro corto que tiene una trama interesante, laberíntica, una narración muy rápida que hace que la lectura sea amena y entretenida, esta es una historia que entretiene bastante... Lee la reseña completa en mi blog: https://the ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Katsumi rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2013 Rose rated it liked it
I like to make my own mind up about books so I don't generally read reviews or research books before I read them. Good thing too because I would have been warned not to start my first foray into Austerland with this book, but I'm glad I did. There were things in the story, names mentioned that to an Auster reader/fan would be almost like an inside joke of sorts & I wasn't in on them thus allowing me to enjoy the story without guessing what was going on. As it was, I didn't get what was happe ...more
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Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Report from the Interior, Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature, the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Independent Spirit Award, and the Premio Napoli. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Ac ...more
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“I walk around the world like a ghost, and sometimes I question
whether I even exist. Whether I've ever existed at all.”
“The pictures do not lie, but neither do they tell the whole story. They are merely a record of time passing, the outward evidence.” 24 likes
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