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The history of love by Nicole Krauss

The history of love (2005)

by Nicole Krauss (Author)

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English (239)  Dutch (4)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Norwegian (2)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (253)
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The History of Love – Krauss
Audio performance by George Guidell, Julia Gibson and others
4 stars

This is another book with parallel and eventually intersecting story lines. It worked beautifully as a multi-voiced audio book.

The first story line is related by Leopold Gursky. Leo is old, Jewish, and lonely. He says, “All I want is not to die on a day I went unseen.” (To that end, he answers an ad to be a nude model for a drawing class.) But he wants more than that. He wants to be acknowledged by the son he did not raise. Leo is funny, endearing , heartbreaking and possibly not the most reliable of narrators. He is also the original author of a mysterious, lost and reappearing book called The History of Love.

Alma Singer is a 15 year old girl who was named for a character in The History of Love. All of her life she has known how her parent’s passionate relationship was deeply influenced by this book. Following her father, David Singer’s death, Alma’s mother is commissioned to translate this very book. In a misguided effort to alleviate her mother’s grief, Alma begins to research the book’s author and its origins. The story is convoluted. There’s not much action; it’s all about the characters.

I loved Leo Gursky. He could have been pathetic, but instead he was a survivor, with humor. I liked Alma, but, like most teenagers, she became annoying at times. I was completely engrossed in both parts of the story until the end. It took the author a bit too long to bring her story lines together. And, once she did unravel the tangles, the book ended abruptly.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering."
Nicole Krauss could have opened her book with this wonderful line, which doesn't come until a few pages later. Instead, she opens with thoughts from the wonderful old Leo Gursky: "When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT. I'm surprised I haven't been buried alive." Right from the beginning as he talks about dying, he is immediately and fully alive. He says "All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen.", so he makes sure that he gets out and gets seen. He makes a public display of spilling his coins and labouring to retrieve them, and of going in to a store to try on shoes and being a bit of a nuisance, even hilariously posing nude for an art class. He started to write again: "At times I believed that the last page of my book and the last page of my life were one and the same, that when my book ended I’d end, a great wind would sweep through my rooms carrying the pages away, and when the air cleared of all those fluttering white sheets the room would be silent, the chair where I sat would be empty."
Krauss's writing is wonderful -- she somehow dives through the surfaces straight into the core of being, and she doesn't waste time. She is just there.
Some of the passages are of such loneliness; she makes them poignant without being mushy. Yet others are brisk and funny: "...things went downhill when I entered adolescence and was abandoned by the pleasant attractiveness that all children have...As soon as the acne cleared my hairline began to recede, as if it wanted to disassociate itself from the embarrassment of my face. My ears, pleased with the new attention they now enjoyed, seemed to strain farther into the spotlight. My eyelids drooped—some muscle tension had to give to support the struggle of the ears."
So the characterisations, the voices, the prose were stellar. The focus, the tracking, of the shifting stories within stories and of parallel lines, wavered and flickered though. It felt a bit forced at times. But maybe with a re-read, and having the benefit on a second time 'round of understanding the structure, it would feel more right.
This is a history of the story of the history of love. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Although the character of Leo Gursky is well-written, and the book is a good exploration of what it means to be Jewish in America, the book is not a success. There's a book within a book--Gursky is writing The History of Love, and his version is better than the version Krauss writes. The ending is needlessly contrived and gimmicky, and a very real character turns out to be a ghost. I say, try again, Nicole! ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
What a gem of a book! Just when I thought I had it all figured out Krauss throws in a little twist at the very end that really took me by surprise. I'm so glad I read this. (On loan from Cindy.) ( )
  cjservis | Apr 2, 2016 |
A wonderful story with strong characters, plotting and a deft touch for words. A book about love, writing, loss, and reality.
The setting of New York city is there along with plenty of Jewish culture if that interests you, but to me that is only the seasoning of a well written story. Check it out and enjoy the history of love. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Mar 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
I en nedslitt leilighet i New York prøver Leo Gursky å overleve litt til. Hver kveld banker han på radiatoren for at naboen over skal høre at han fortsatt lever.Men livet hans har ikke alltid vært slik. For seksti år siden bodde han hjemme i Polen, der han forelsket seg og skrev en bok. Kjæresten mistet han da hun flyktet til Amerika rett før krigen. Boken ble også borte. Men uten at han selv er klar over det, har den overlevd: Den har krysset hav, blitt overlevert mellom generasjoner, og forandret liv. Fjorten år gamle Alma er oppkalt etter en person i denne boken. Etter at faren hennes døde, er hun fullt opptatt med å finne en ny kjæreste til moren, holde styr på en lillebror som tror han er Messias, og ta utførlige notater i et hefte hun kaller Hvordan overleve i villmarken, Bind tre. En dag dukker det opp et mystisk brev i posten, og Alma begir seg ut på jakt etter sin navnesøster.Personene i Kjærlighetens historie er mennesker man blir glad i. Hver for seg sysler de med gåter som på bemerkelsesverdig vis er forbundet med hverandre. Nicole Krauss har skrevet en medrivende og imponerende sammensatt roman om mennesker som har blitt avkuttet fra sin fortid, og som på hver sin pussige, rørende måte forsøker å få livet til å henge sammen.
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For my grandparents, who taught me the opposite of disappearing and for Jonathan, my life
First words
When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, Leo Gursky is survived by an apartment full of shit.
A thought crossed his face in a language I didn’t understand.
It’s also true that sometimes people felt things and because there was no word for them, they went unmentioned.  The oldest emotion in the world may be that of being moved, but to describe it and just to name it – must have been like trying to catch something invisible.
Maybe this is how I'll go, in a fit of laughter, what could be better, laughing and crying, laughing and singing, laughing so as to forget that I am alone, that it is the end of my life, that death is waiting outside the door for me.
The truth was I'd given up waiting long ago. 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.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Presents a narrative about an aged author who flees Nazi-occupied Poland leaving his unpublished manuscript behind and a teenage girl in New York who was named after the heroine in Leo's book which was published under a different man's name.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393328627, Paperback)

Nicole Krauss's The History of Love is a hauntingly beautiful novel about two characters whose lives are woven together in such complex ways that even after the last page is turned, the reader is left to wonder what really happened. In the hands of a less gifted writer, unraveling this tangled web could easily give way to complete chaos. However, under Krauss's watchful eye, these twists and turns only strengthen the impact of this enchanting book.

The History of Love spans of period of over 60 years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At the center of each main character's psyche is the issue of loneliness, and the need to fill a void left empty by lost love. Leo Gursky is a retired locksmith who immigrates to New York after escaping SS officers in his native Poland, only to spend the last stage of his life terrified that no one will notice when he dies. ("I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I'm out, I'll buy a juice even though I'm not thirsty.") Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer vacillates between wanting to memorialize her dead father and finding a way to lift her mother's veil of depression. At the same time, she's trying to save her brother Bird, who is convinced he may be the Messiah, from becoming a 10-year-old social pariah. As the connection between Leo and Alma is slowly unmasked, the desperation, along with the potential for salvation, of this unique pair is also revealed.

The poetry of her prose, along with an uncanny ability to embody two completely original characters, is what makes Krauss an expert at her craft. But in the end, it's the absolute belief in the uninteruption of love that makes this novel a pleasure, and a wonder to behold. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:47 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Sixty years after a book's publication, its author remembers his lost love and missing son, while a teenage girl named for one of the book's characters seeks her namesake, as well as a cure for her widowed mother's loneliness.

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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393328627, 0393060349

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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