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The Red Notebook: True Stories

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  3,903 ratings  ·  280 reviews
Paul Auster has earned international praise for the imaginative power of his many novels, including The New York Trilogy, Moon Palace, The Music of Chance, Mr. Vertigo, and Timbuktu. He has also published a number of highly original non-fiction works: The Invention of Solitude, Hand to Mouth, and The Art of Hunger. In The Red Notebook, Auster again explores events from the ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published June 17th 2002 by New Directions (first published August 10th 1993)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Red Notebook, Paul Auster
The Red Notebook is a story-in-a-story collection by Paul Auster. The book consists of four parts, all stories which had appeared previously: The Red Notebook (1995), Why Write? (1996), Accident Report (1999) and It Don't Mean a Thing (2000). They are true stories gathered from Auster's life as well as the lives of his friends and acquaintances and they have all one thing in common: the paradox of coincidence. Auster narrates things he writes about in his fiction, m
Matthew Appleton
60th book of 2020.

I have a story to tell: In my first year of University, I believe in a Poetry module, we were given a passage (of prose, bizarrely) by a writer about his friend (J.) and the end of their friendship. The reason? The writer has had only four flat tyres in his life and all four of which happened with J. in the car. The writer admits it was not the only reason, surely, but that fourth tyre must have been symbolic of something, and they both knew it. Now, for some reason, that stor
Moira Russell
Vintage Auster: the man in miniature. Occasionally mawkish, occasionally so precise it takes your breath away, a kind of balancing act where every action is at once banal and loaded with meaning, like a sort of weird combination of Chekhov and Guy de Maupassant: O Henry stories without the trick endings, or as if the story was all trick. The back cover calls this "a singular kind of ars poetica, a literary manifesto without theory," which is true enough. Because the pieces in this book are so sh ...more
Amirah Jiwa
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gold. Not two days ago, I was complaining to a friend about having to read genre fiction instead of beautiful writing during my morning commute because it was more suited to the constant interruptions and stop-and-go of the tube. And then, this book fell into my hand.

Auster's bite-size true stories are intense and powerful, capturing lovely moments of chance and possibility in just a few pages each. "Perhaps it is a way to remind myself that I know nothing, that the world I live in will go on es
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Oh, Paul Auster! I love this man so much. The simplicity his writing is just beautiful, and the stories themselves- all of which are about extraordinary moments or coincidences- kind of restored my faith in humanity, in fate, in life. It's so wonderful to know that moments like this exist, and that someone has taken the time to recall them. It's rare that I stumble upon a coincidence as profound as some of the ones in this book (Nazi prison guard's daughter falls in love with prisoner's son, a g ...more
Liina Bachmann
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
This slim book has three parts: short descriptions of coincidental happenings in Auster's life; his short essays on some writers, artists and French poetry and interviews with himself. The snippets of unbelievable coincidences were nice to read but not too thrilling if you've read his work before. The French poetry analysis I skipped cos I have no deep interest in that subject. But the interviews. Those were really insightful and they make me understand his work so much better now. For example:

Justin Evans
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
In 1947, a friend of mine, P., was born. He went on to live much of his life in New York or Europe. He was particularly attached to France, spending much of his time there even when there was no real reason for him to do so, and that might have contributed to his fame in that country. P. became a writer of banally meta stories, another reason that the French love him so much, and I thought that he would go there and never return. Perhaps that's why I never read his work.

He published many novels
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This incredible little book is a collection of almost unbelievable, true "happenstances" that one of my favorite authors compiled. Each vignette, only a few pages, is a story with amazing outcomes, neatly tied up into feel-good endings. I still question the veracity of the whole thing but it is a quick read, wholly satisfying and full of humanity that makes me happy and makes me close my eyes with a smile at each ending.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A slim red little notebook, just a few stories thrown in, all about this rather remarkable thing we call coincidences, or Chance. It's like a little amuse bouche of Paul Auster and the rest of his work. This is what it tastes like, only a crumble to wet the appetite.
Shaimaa Ali
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing more beautiful than Paul Auster’s works as his autobiography .. very passionately illustrated essays about his personal memoir , selections of books he translated & why and finally a selection of short passages on (why write?) ..

Loved it as his amazing literate works ..
When you're a man as good-looking, beloved by the French, and utterly meta as Paul Auster, things happen to you. Exciting things. Surprising things. Coicidental and virtually impossible things. And if things aren't happening to you, then by golly, they are happening to someone you know. And so what are you to do, Paul Auster, but to write a book detailing the minute ways in which life (specifically yours) truly means something.

Because, Dear Reader, everything is connected.

Auster believes in a
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Uh oh.

This is actually my first exposure to Auster (and admittedly probably not the best starting point for him, as I hope to go into The New York trilogy soon), and I really didn't care for it.

I think what I found to be problematic is that each of the coincidences found within the novel (which the book is essentially entirely about, minus a few chapters) has no actual meaning to them. That's not to say that it has to ever, but I was hoping to actually get something out of it. Instead, all tha
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bought The Red Notebook in a New York book store before heading to the airport to fly to Beijing. Thought I would finish it before the in-flight dinner was served, but found the first few pages so exquisite that I had to draw out the consumption as long as possible. Just finished it in my Beijing hotel room four days after the New York purchase. This is honest, direct, precise writing, at once unadorned and deeply complex. Regular practice at this way of writing would greatly enhance any writer' ...more
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Very enjoyable little collection of true stories. Most are based around coincidence, all are short, some told to him, some happened to him. Many are remarkable in their content, all are told remarkably well.
Samantha Grabelle
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Auster is my new favorite author. He loves coincidences as much as I do. He writes plainly and without a lot of clutter. I have fantasies of showing him my memoir stories...
Farhan Khalid
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, american
In 1973, I was offered a job as caretaker of a farmhouse in the south of France

It turned out to be a curious year

The place was beautiful: a large, eighteenth-century stone house bordered by vineyards on one side and a national forest on the other. The nearest village was two kilometers away, but it was inhabited by no more than forty people

It was an ideal spot for two young writers to spend a year

On the other hand, we lived on the brink of permanent catastrophe

L. and I were married in 1974

Lauren ReVeal
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thinking I need to do a bit of re-reading and perhaps buy my own copy.
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll begin from the bottom line: in my opinion, you can't really go wrong with an Auster book - he's truly a master of writing, which is something that can be attributed to a very few novelists these days (among them you can also find Stephen King). Of course, some may not like their prose but one can not argue with their tremendous success and part of it must be attributed to their outstanding style.

"The red notebook" is actually a collection of snippets from Auster's autobiography and since h
Neil Randall
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Red Notebook provides a fascinating insight into a writer’s life, inspiration and outlook. Collected here are short essays, reflections and extracts from interviews where Auster talks about incidents from his past that have coloured both his life and work, from his early poetry and translation work onward. In particular, there is an emphasis on fate and chance, how commonplace unlikely meetings and coincidences are in everyday life, far more than in fictional works, where unlikely plot twist ...more
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
This is a great book to read on a Sunday, or any rainy day (yep, as cliché as it sounds). I read in other reviews of Auster's books that he writes stories that anyone could write, and I now understand why people seem to think that.

Auster writes in a contemporary style, about contemporary places, and typical relations, yet, it is precisely these set of characteristics that makes him apparently simple, but at the same time unique. It takes great intelligence to notice the small details necessary
Merry Creig
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most fascinated book which I was affected. I should say that "Thank you Paul Auster." Because he wrote such a realistic book that I couldn't help admiring of it.
He both introduced his life and mentioned the incidents which coincided with the people who has met so far.
This book was a sample of "bibliotherapy" on its own. Paul Auster not only referred to the incidents which was lived by him but also told about his touchy experiments about his life. The full density of sensitive sensations i
Andrew Smith
A collection of essays by and interviews with this most creative of all contemporary American writers. Fantastic insight into the creation of Auster's early work. In truth, one for aficionados only.
Joe Imwalle
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very quick read and especially pleasant. Great little stories. I found myself recounting some of them to my wife. Recommended.
Megan Burns
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a lovely and spellbinding little collection of coincidences
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Oh, my. Paul Auster's pen has given me some of my favorite stories. He's my favorite author. No question. This book is baffling, though. It is a collection of random essays about anything and everything, but told in a very bland way. It's like you're reading email accounts from a friend, not from an outstanding writer. Even stories that might be interesting, like that of a man unsuccessfully looking for a book everywhere, only to finally get it from a total stranger on a train platform, sound bo ...more
Hollie Rose
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, diary
It's a slim volume of things he, presumably, wrote in a red notebook. It's him musing on some of the moments of his life that have stayed in his mind for reasons unknown to anyone. A couple of instances of saving another from certain disaster, one of seeing someone die, and images of stories related to him by others, mostly a strange collection of random coincidences. I rather enjoyed its pointless and important telling of life stories.
Alec Mcallister
An odd mix of interviews, essays and scraps of stories that Auster has collected like a magpie over a lifetime. All enjoyable for Auster fans except maybe the preface to the 20th century French Poetry Anthology, which he edited. The preface is well written of course but you would have to be very knowledgable on French poetry or you will inevitably ending up skimming it.
John Stotesbury
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A "novel"?! Not really, but a fascinating collection of apparently true anecdotes that tel of coincidences, great and small. Coincidences are always intriguing -- I've dined out -- or rather, used in my teaching -- a few personal tales that illustrate the oddness of time and experience. Re-readable!
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like all the other books it is just perfectly written. You feel that he is talking directly to you about incredible stories that happened to happen in real life!!

well written by Paul Auster. He relates with concise description some incredible events that took place in his life or his friends. I warmly recommend it to anybody
Michael Brown
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
This tiny book is subtitled True Stories, and true they may be, but they are really only anecdotes of odd coincidences. In Auster's telling they fascinate, sometimes. Sometimes they are merely interesting. You will race through them primed for one of his longer books. Perfect reading for a subway ride from say Brooklyn to Manhattan where the settings will strike a chord and the characters too.
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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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