Karen's Reviews > Great House

Great House by Nicole Krauss
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's review
Oct 10, 2011

really liked it
Read in October, 2011

Nicole Krauss knows how to do grief, unspeakable loss, the fragility of existence. It's impressive how she can access those emotions so purely and precisely. But the book just keeps on twanging those three notes, with almost no variation whatsoever. It gets to be a bit much, and a bit lifeless, and eventually you become habituated. At some point I started smiling every time I came across a sentence that mentioned "sadness seeping in" or a person/soul being "crushed into oblivion".
My favorite part of the book is the first chapter, which also impressed me when it appeared as a short story in The Best American Short Stories 2008. It's the one with the most vitality, and I wonder how much of that is due to its strong resemblance to Roberto Bolano's work. Insert Chilean poet/activist here, add a story about your brief but unforgettable encounter with his genius, sprinkle in a little torture in a basement at the hands of Pinochet, and you can't lose.

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