Mr. Sam Jones sent along this link to a review of Auster's Travels in the Scriptorium, asking: "Did this negative review by a skilled critic enlighten?"
Yes, Mr. Jones. It did:
With its earnestly literary atmosphere not far from self-parody, it's hard to imagine anyone other than die-hard Auster fans warming much to Travels in the Scriptorium. What makes the book so unsatisfying is how its whole scenario is a high-concept but ultimately pointless gimmick. This is always the risk hazarded by metafiction and is the standard knock on Auster delivered by his critics. Unfortunately, there's no refuting that view here. In the New York Trilogy, Auster surmounted the problem because its narratives were anchored by an unnerving feel for the self's vulnerability, the sense that any one of us might find ourselves suddenly confronting the revelation that even in life we are little more than barely sentient ghosts. Similarly, Auster's portrait of his father in The Invention of Solitude as a spectral cipher who lived his everyday existence as a kind of absence is at once harrowing and compelling. But many years have passed since he created these works, and in the interim Auster has lost connection to a true subject. In Travels in the Scriptorium, the insubstantiality of Mr. Blank has no real resonance other than to fill the echo chamber that Auster has made of his career. Despite the emphasis on the fundamental actions of his body—crawling, shitting, ejaculating—he remains, like the rest of the novel, a stillborn creation. A proper retrospective, by making us see things that we hadn't realized were there all along, should inject some fresh vitality into our sense of an author's work. Travels in the Scriptorium sucks out whatever life there is in Auster's invented universe, leaving a sterile vacuum of self-regard.
This is scathing stuff, but at least (taken as a whole) it grants Auster and his book the consideration they deserve.
(YPTR's only quibble is with Gibbons cherrypicking a sentence from Auster and showing how it suffers in comparison to Bellow's "opening salvo" in Herzog. That's not cricket, Mr. Gibbons! No need to stack the deck.)