Saturday, January 22, 2011

"The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss

Published: 2005
Read: 2010
Genre: Fiction
Setting: Modern day NYC
Rating: 4
Review: Sarah Reads Too Much
Nicole Krauss' web site

Recommended by my daughter and sister-in-law.  Not what I expected (anthology of love, or history of love between two people).  Pulled in from the start: who is this old Jewish man, Leo?  Why is he alone?  What is his story?  Interesting how the author uses various POV and ends with POV between Leo and Alma as their thoughts are chronicled in the time before they finally meet.  Unanswered questions: who is Jacob Marcus?  Yes, I guess he is Issac but I would’ve like that connection to be stronger.  Why didn’t Leo connect with Isaac after he was a grown man?  Isaac was a writer, as was Leo.  They would’ve had a love of books and words in common.  What was up with Bird?  Why so weird?  Not as neatly tied as I wanted, but maybe this was the point.  Makes one think.

Story Synopsis
This novel has another novel, The History of Love, as one of it’s characters.  It is the one thing that binds the other characters together, Alma Singer and her family, Charlotte, David and “the Bird”, Leo Gurskey, Bruno, Issac Moritz and his mother, the love of Leo’s life, Alma, Zvi Litvinoff, the plagerist and his wife, Rosa, the accomplice.  The book becomes the center of a mystery - who is the Alma that Alma Singer is named after?  Who is Jacob Marcus, the man who wants Alma’s mother to translate the book into English?  The are three threads:  Leo Gurskey, Alma Singer and the book, plagerized by Leo’s friend Zvi, who was jealous of his writing and thought he was dead.  The book ties them all together.

Memorable Quotes:

Grief of a wife for her soul mate
“She kept her love for him as alive as the summer they first met.  In order to do this, she’s turned life away.  Sometimes she subsists for days on water and air. She chose my father and to hold on to a certain feeling, she sacrificed the world.” (45-46).

“None of us would be able to win over the memories she had of Dad, memories that soothed her even while they made her sad, because she’d built a world out of them she knew how to survive in, even if no one else could” (181).

Grief for a father for his son
“Only now that my son was gone did I realize how much I’d been living for him.  When I woke up in the morning it was because he existed and when I ordered food it was because he existed, and when I wrote my book it was becuase he existed to read it” (80).

On passing the chance for love
“The moment had passed, the door between the lives we could have led and the lives we led had shut in our faces.  Or better to say, in my face” (86).

On sadness:  
There are two types of people in the world: those who prefer to be sad among others, and those who prefer to be sad alone” (155).

First love
“Her kiss was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering” (62).

On hoarding
“Perhaps that’s why I hoarded the world: with the hope that when I died, the sum total of my things would suggest a life larger than the one I lived” (165).

Other books
  • Man Walks Into A Room (2002)
  • Great House (2010)
Husband is an author as well: Jonathan Safran Foer

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