Paul Auster’s Portuguese notebooks

In Paul Auster’s 2002 novel Oracle Night (see very contrasting reader reviews on, a blue notebook plays a central role. It is probably one as those pictured above.

This blogger discovered the notebooks before the novel due to an article by the political analyst Enric Juliana (La Vanguardia, Jan. 6, 2013) on his impressions of a recent visit to Lisbon.

Juliana writes about a small store on Largo do Calhariz street where Luis Bordalo and his wife sell newspapers, magazines, and stationery, and where he believed to have discovered Auster’s notebooks five years earlier. He describes them as follows:

“Notebooks bound in a blue fabric and with an accounting book sticker on front. None had the same number of pages, the paper cutting was tinted blue or pink; the manually glued stickers played with the symmetry. Imperfect. Beautiful. I thought of the blue Portuguese notebooks described by Auster …, and Senhor Bordalo told me: ‘I think they are these.’ … The word went out, and a few months later [the Portuguese airline] TAP’s inflight magazine dedicated a page to them. That was five years ago. Portugal had not been officially declared in crisis at that time; but, as they had a presentiment of the desaster that was about to strike, the Portuguese began to worship their traditional products. They fell in love with the objects that were prior to globalization. … Senhor Bordalo tells me: ‘Five  years ago I sent a report to the stationery maker with the possibilities offered by the product, and meanwhile, I decided to sell it with a removable rubber band. Now, finally they have taken a decision.’ There has come out a stylized version of the Portuguese blue notebook, with more elegant paper, a ribbon page marker, and an removable rubber band. Paul Auster take note:  things of the old world that change to remain the same. […; the article ends with:] I get home from Lisbon with quite a few blue notebooks (rustic and stylized) and some idea of the possible surprises for the years 2013 and 2014. ”

These notebooks are made by the  stationery maker FIRMO, they are called Blue Note, available in A6 and A5, in Portugal at a price of around 7 to 10 EUR respectively. Online here [no commission to this blogger ;-)].





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