The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
August 8, 2010 § 16 Comments
… 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.
I had planned on reading this book some time ago, but whenever I visited the library, I always just conveniently forgot about it, and picked some other book instead.
And then, Mee had to go and read it.
To be honest, I didn’t read her review post. But her gushing about The History of Love with Claire in our shared emails was enough to send me running (well, not quite really, but still.) to the library to get this book soonest I could.
And what a novel it has turned out to be.
If I may steal Mee’s first few sentences: I loved this book. I really really loved it. Hopelessly fell in love with it. I did. I’m not joking. Again, if I may steal from the cover of the book, what Ali Smith thought about it: A beauty of a book, totally alive, made with real energy and nerve and craft. It restores your faith in fiction. It restores all sorts of faith.
How long has it been since the last time I laughed out loud while reading? I’d burst with a loud guffaw, and my friend would look at me weird, and I’d just say, “It’s just too funny.” Then not moments later, I’d sigh, and my friend would look at me weird, and I’d say, “Sigh..”
I don’t know how to talk about this book, except that it’s just beautiful. It was full of the most tender moments I could imagine, and they made my heart melt so much I wanted to hug Leo Gursky at times. Leo is a locksmith, and this is how he describes his job:
I helped those in who were locked out, others I helped keep out what couldn’t be let in, so that they could sleep without nightmares.
The writing was amazing, it was like being lead into clouds, and all you could hear were the words being read to you. It was like having someone stroke your back as you close your eyes. It felt like being lifted off the ground.
And if the man who once upon a time had been a boy who promised he’d never fall in love with another girl as long as he lived kept his promise, it wasn’t because he was stubborn or even loyal. He couldn’t help it.
There is a book within this book, also called “The History of Love”. And I have to say, how I loved this book too. The language so lovely, the ideas so original. If I could, I wish I could read this entire book too.
If at large gatherings or parties, or around people with whom you feel distant, your hands sometimes hang awkwardly at the ends of your arms – if you find yourself at a loss for what to do with them, overcome with sadness that comes when you recognise the foreignness of your own body – it’s because your hands remember a time when the division between mind and body, brain and heart, what’s inside and what’s outside, was so much less.
Alma Singer was named by her father after every girl in this book, “The History of Love”. That’s all I’m telling you about her. Oh, and perhaps I can tell you another thing: her father was an engineer, and she thought that being an engineer meant he drove a train.
One day my father laughed and corrected me. Everything snapped into focus. It’s one of those unforgettable moments that happen as a child, when you discover that all along the world has been betraying you.
And since this post is turning out to contain more quotes than my own thoughts, here’s one that almost made me cry.
She paused, and then lifted her face to meet his. And as Litvinoff watched them kiss, he felt that everything that belonged to him was worthless.
It’s a book that cuts, deep. But it’s also a book that heals. Like Ali Smith said, it’s a book that restores all sorts of faith.