I picked up The Red Notebook in a very stylish bookshop in Innsbruck. The store was located a bit off the main street, and had huge night black shelves with bright green details. Quite designed, I think it was called Wiederin.
In any case, I bought some books in German, but then they also had this section of books in English. I had a look and The Red Notebook sort of stood out.
I had never heard about Paul Auster, but decided for the book anyway, and now I have read it.
While Auster is mostly known as a novelist as far as I have been able to gather this book is a collection of non fictitious odds and ends. There are five parts: The red notebook, Prefaces, Interviews, A prayer for Salman Rushdie, and Why write? Part I, IV, and V are short essays, while II and III: prefaces and interviews, are longer texts.
The essays are the most interesting parts of the book in my opinion. I really appreciated their shortness, only a couple of pages each. Just brief stories from Auster's life, anecdotes, memories, ideas. Many of them based on the idea of that kind of special coincidences that you only notice when you think about them. Like, when you remember a friend that you have not spoken to in years, and then he calls you on the phone later that day. Those things.
While all of these may seem trivial, there are mostly an idea or a concept that Auster wants to tell with all the stories and some have a meditative feeling. However what mostly impressed me was the language. Beautiful, and very smooth. It is hard to explain, but I had the feeling that it was so very easy to read, like walking without any weight. A beautiful text that just flowed across from the pages. I remember being very impressed while reading. I guess more than I was by the ideas themselves.
So, all in all. Not a book of grand ideas. Maybe not even a necessary book, but if you happen to have it and find yourself with some time. Read an essay or two, just to feel weightless in English.