A tender masterpiece of love, memory and loss from one of the world’s great writers.

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Pub Date Nov 07 2023 | Archive Date Nov 07 2023

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A tender masterpiece of love, memory and loss from one of the world's great writers.

The life of Sy Baumgartner - noted author, and soon-to-be retired philosophy professor - has been defined by his deep, abiding love for his wife, Anna. Now Anna is gone, and Baumgartner is embarking on his seventies whilst trying to live with her absence. But Anna's voice is everywhere still, in every spiral of memory and reminiscence, in each recalled episode of the passionate forty years they shared.

Rich with compassion, wit and an eye for beauty in the smallest, most transient episodes of ordinary life, Baumgartner is one of Auster's most luminous works - a tender late masterpiece of the ache of memory.

What readers are saying:

***** Perfect, subtle, charming, funny and sad.
**** Well-written and compelling but also comforting, like catching up with an old friend.
**** This is a concise, beautifully-written and intelligent piece of understated introspective fiction from Auster.

A tender masterpiece of love, memory and loss from one of the world's great writers.

The life of Sy Baumgartner - noted author, and soon-to-be retired philosophy professor - has been defined by his...

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ISBN 9780571384938
PRICE £18.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 38 members

Featured Reviews

As with all Paul Auster books the writing washes over you like a warm bath. Beautifully written and I felt all of the character’s emotions. The ups and the downs. Early on we realise that he hasn’t been able to move on from his wife’s death, even ten years later. Things then change and there is hope again. I will read this again as there’s so much to take in. His early life and his relationship with his father and his father’s early life in Stanislav

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In the twilight of his life, Sy Baumgartner reminisces about his life, and the love of his life Anna, who died ten years previously. This small volume - it is a novel I read in one sitting - is one of those finely crafted, sweeping epics yet deeply personal narratives that American writers seem to excel at.

Auster is a master of American fiction, and this is another fine novel in his ouevre. Whilst not his strongest work, it is still an exemplary one, and weakened only in stature by being compared to his other great novels. If you're a devotee, this will be loved by you. Of your new to him, this will easily convince you to read more.

Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for the ARC.

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I'm torn about this book. I loved it, right up until the very end. It reminded me of Anne Tyler's work when she is at her best, focussing as it does on someone on the margins of life and exploring with great tenderness and nuance their experience. Baumgartner is still in mourning for his wife, ten years after she died in a freak accident. Aware of his own ageing, he starts making friends and reconnecting with the world after an accident. As he moves forwards he looks back. It was perfect, subtle, charming, funny and sad. Baumgartner is a great character and I was completely invested in the story. When it finished the way it did, I was so mad I actually shouted. It's not that it's a bad ending. It's just that I don't really know what it is. I need other people to read it so I can talk to them about it is what I need. Then I will have some kind of closure. As it is, I find myself thinking about this at least once a day since I finished it.

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A look back at the life of Baumgartner by Paul Auster is a romantic look at life such as people who are the age of the character in the book tend to do.
This short novel is wonderfully written with wit and love.
Every man who reads this book will wish that they had Baumgartner's life, or something very similar to it.
Brilliant . Thanks for an enjoyable read, and my thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy for honest review.

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I’m a huge fan of Paul Auster and was really excited to get an ARC copy of Baumgartner.

This book centres on Sy Baumgartner a noted author, and soon-to-be retired Princeton professor.

Sy is inching into his seventies and is in his twilight years. He’s been widowed for a while and still lives in the house he shared with his wife Anna. Anna’s presence is felt everywhere.

The book is a beautiful meditation on growing old and looking back on on a life lived. He reminisces on his childhood, his relationship with his family and his relationship with his wife Anna - his one true love. Sy truly loved Anna and it was simply beautiful reading about their relationship. Sy and Anna didn’t have children, so he only has his memories.

I thought it felt a very honest read. Sy tries to move on and make changes. Adding to the honesty of the book there were some very real amusing ‘note to self’ moments - e.g. to do up one’s zipper after going to the bathroom, as it’s the first thing to go and everything spirals from there.

I don’t think it’s possible to come away from this book without reviewing one’s own life.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, Faber and Faber, for making this book available to me to read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Ah the joy of reading Paul Auster where do I start......the quality of the prose, the character of Baumgartner, the cleverness of his ideas, how easy the reader moves from one thought process to another....and there's so much more.

Baumgartner looks at the life of Sy Baumgartner, he is a philosopher/lecturer and author and is now coming to the latter stages of his life (he's 72). Moving around through time the novel picks moments of time in Baumgartner's life, in particular his dead wife Anna who he lost a decade earlier and has grieved ever since. His thoughts are always interconnected with his wife's memory and he dwells upon her, memory keeps her alive. His thoughts go to his mother and father and their immigrant past and looks at what is going on in America and the world today.

This feels like a memoir of sorts, there are connections to be made with Auster and his character Baumgartner and one wonders how much personal experience has gone into this novel. This is a utterly moving, compelling read, one the reader should slow down, enjoy and meditate upon its ideas.

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Austin is an absolute master of his craft and that is fully apparent here, in a volume that is so slim that every excessive note or stray thought would have the potential to upset the delicate balance of the narrative he's laying out. If his writing feels somewhat old-fashioned for today's tastes, that's fitting in a winter-of-life tale such as this - his gentle message that life always offers new meanings and connections, even at its darkest never comes close to saccharine, but balances a quiet optimism with its poignancy. Lovely.

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This compelling novel is about the life of Sy Baumgartner. he is a successful author, now in his seventies. He is a widower and thinking about retirement.

The novel goes back and forth with Sy telling stories from his past and present but also about his much loved wife, Anna. Some of these are retold from her perspective, through him. He has spent ten years existing, rather than living, alongside Anna’s absence. It is very moving. Sy is able to recall tiny, subtle details which really make you think about the nature of love and of the grief of loss.

I wondered if I was reading part memoir on occasions, especially when Auster is about the same age as his protaganist. He also uses his own surname for a relative of Baumgartner’s. But this did not distract from the pleasure of reading fine writing which was sad, funny, thought-provoking and moving.

I read a copy provided by the publishers and NetGalley but my views are my own.

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