This article explores the idea that autobiographical texts can also become sites of withdrawal, where the seemingly personal is offered on the surface of the text but also immediately recedes into the background. Paul Auster's autobiographical text Report from the Interior, which is a companion piece to the earlier Winter Journal, is a case in point. In this text, the literary and the everyday intersect in intriguing ways. The book features lengthy descriptions of (pop)cultural artefacts which influenced the young Auster's mind. Auster further contextualizes his life by referring to historical moments and political issues. I argue that readers' expectations of an introspective stance and a personal and idiosyncratic view of the author's (special) life are thwarted to a degree since the Report in fact "exteriorizes" Auster's inner life through the use of the everyday and thus turns it into a common experience that other people growing up under similar circumstances in the 1950s may recognize and identify with. His use of you-narration as a means of self-address can be interpreted as either a means of self-distancing or of creating a sense of intimacy. It thus also serves as a projection screen for readers' own memories of the past and of life experiences they may have shared with Auster.


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pp. 125-140
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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