Monday, February 28, 2011

The History of Love

I may be little behind the times with reading The History of Love. It came out about five years ago and I'm only getting around to reading it now, when the buzz has already moved on to Nicole Krauss's next book.

The History of Love tells the story of an elderly Jewish man who wrote a book in his youth which, unbeknown to him, survived after he fled Nazi Europe, made it's way across the Atlantic, and ended up a published novel. The story unfolds as his life converges with that of a young girl Alma, named after one of the characters in his book, as she tries to piece together the mystery of the writer who created her namesake. Just trying to sum that up concisely left me feeling a bit confused. This is definitely a novel that reveals itself like a puzzle. You read about some of the characters without being one-hundred percent sure that you're right about who they are until the next piece falls into place.

One of the most interesting things for me was comparing this to what I've read by Jonathan Safran Foer, Krauss's husband. His writing sometimes leaves me feeling like he's engaging in literary gymnastics just for the sake of proving that he's a good enough writer to pull off crazy stunts. I felt a bit of the same with The History of Love, but to a lesser degree. Whatever gymnastics it contains seem really relevant to the way the story is told, but there were one or two aspects of the story that I thought were left hanging (from the uneven bars, if you want to beat this analogy into the ground) and didn't quite come together as much as I would have liked in the end.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad it's not just me.
    I started History of Love with much anticipation several months ago. It is now languishing half read on the pile of books by my bed.
    I like parts of it, but I'm not hooked into it like I've heard so many others rave about. Your gymnastic analogy struck a chord with me. Not only does it jump and leap and twirl. It's also like watching someone else perform something clever that you would never do (and never want to try!)



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