Monday, 16 April 2007

The History of Love - Nicole Krauss

When reading this, I had a funny feeling I had read it before. I knew I hadn't, but I couldn't shake the sense of recognition. Thinking about the story I realised there were marked similarities between 'The History of Love' and 'Everything is Illuminated' by Jonathan Safran Foer. Master-wordsmith Jewish wartime protagonists create masterpieces for their lost loves, youthful present-day Americans try to trace the story and find themselves along the way. The main difference between them is that 'Everything is Illuminated' plays it for laughs, while the sombre, eccentric prose of 'The History of Love' nearly made me give up halfway through, something I never do. I'm glad I didn't though, as the coagulation of all the streams of consciousness in the final third of the book is spine-chilling and beautiful. You can tell there are going to be connections, and some of them are visible a mile off, but when they do all crystallise and Alma and Leo finally meet I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

When I finished reading I looked up the author, Nicole Krauss, on Wikipedia. Guess who she's married to - Jonathan Safran Foer. It almost feels as though they came up with a concept together, and then didn't talk about it until they had each finished their vastly different take on it.

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