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Man Walks into a Room
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Man Walks into a Room

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  6,306 ratings  ·  647 reviews
A luminous and unforgettable first novel by an astonishing new voice in fiction, hailed by Esquire magazine as one of America"s best young writers.

Samson Greene, a young and popular professor at Columbia, is found wandering in the Nevada desert. When his wife, Anna, comes to bring him home, she finds a man who remembers nothing, not even his own name. The removal of a smal
Paperback, 248 pages
Published November 11th 2003 by Anchor Books (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,306 ratings  ·  647 reviews

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Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Debut novel by Nicole Krauss in 2002, who has become one of my favorite authors. Regarded by many as the best Jewish writer since Kafka, Krauss’ prose is multi faceted and engages the reader with thought provoking ideas. In this first effort, one can sense that Krauss is a leading talent of this generation. The overarching theme of the novel is memory loss and the human capacity to create new memories. I read this on the eve of my vacation knowing that it would be fast reading. Full review to co ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews, read-2011, krauss
A Reader Walks into a Room

I bought "Man" after loving "The History of Love".

I don't think I realised until I started reading it that "Man" was her first novel.

There were times when I could understand why other readers might be tempted to give it up.

I persisted out of loyalty to "History" and out of a sense of anticipation for "Great House".

Little did I realise that it would (almost) have me in tears at the end.

Where Did My Character Go?

"Man" is not a novel of action.

Yet I don't think it's quite
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish, american
Painful Memories

Man loses memory entirely: nothing to write about; man loses all but the last ten minutes of memory: almost nothing to write about; man loses 24 years of memory from the age of twelve: an interesting premise for literary investigation, particularly about the relationship between memory and feeling. How much is feeling invested memory? What happens to feeling when memory disappears? What happens to memory when it becomes more concentrated in some personal epoch? Krauss's explorati
Violet wells
Samson Greene, an English professor at Columbia, is found wandering alone in Nevada desert. Turns out he has suffered severe memory loss because of a brain tumour. He can remember nothing but his childhood. After an operation he returns to his wife who is a complete stranger to him. Soon he finds he can relate much better to one of his former young female students as if without memory of experience, experience is utterly erased and he is again a boy attracted, not to women, but to girls. This re ...more
I was so intrigued by the premise of Krauss’s 2002 debut novel: Samson Greene, a Columbia University English professor in his mid-thirties, is found wandering in the Nevada desert. He’s lost all memory of the past 24 years of his life due to a brain tumor, and after surgery has to try to rebuild a life with his wife, Anna, in New York City. I loved Part One (about the first 80 pages), but then things turn strange. Samson is invited to take part in a neurological experiment back in the Nevada des ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
The book starts off very promising. A man loses 24 years of his memory due to a brain tumor. As the book says, we’re nothing but a collection of habits and accumulation of memories. If we lose those memories and habits, we lose our self and start over with a blank slate. That should make a good concept for a very interesting novel. Instead, the story meanders through a series of irrelevant events and characters and doesn’t offer much in the end.

From the few places where Krauss discusses things l
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, abandoned
(1.5) After loving Krauss's "The History of Love", I thought this book would at least be enjoyed half as much, but alas at a little bit over the 100 page mark, I leave this abandoned. Skimming a book for awhile and half-ass remembering what you've read doesn't equate to enjoyment and/or leisure for me. I guess sometimes an author only has one good book in them and it seems Krauss is going in that direction (for now).

This will be taken back to the library, left to sit for awhile among the KRA's
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A fresh, fascinating investigation of classic themes of loneliness and isolation. Her prose is so lyrical and poetic that it takes awhile before you realize that Krauss has broken your heart.
Jan 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Madeline Knight-Dixon
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The entire premise of this books is that a man wakes up, and has lost the memory of twenty years of his life (he only remembers up to being 12 years old). In itself, not a new concept. However, this book distinguishes itself as a truly unique work of art.

Moments of this book terrified me. Krauss makes this book unique by presenting a man who, after the loss of so much, enjoys the emptiness he’s left with. He allows himself to experience every moment beyond what someone burdened with memories can
Feb 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Amy by: Antof9
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book, now that I am through with it. I am convinced that Nicole Krauss is a marvelous writer. Of that, there is no doubt. But I never fully engaged in the story here. Part of that is Samson's fault, though. I don't think he fully engaged in his story either. The ending came abruptly -- a rapid change of pace, with the epilogue in a different character voice which left me disorientated. (Ha! Just a note to add that I, too, find the use of this word dist ...more
Mar 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
I was going to give this 4 stars but changed my mind at the last few pages. Not that it ended poorly, but I just can't put my finger on it. I loved the writing and the poetic one-liners that Krauss is so good at. But I got the "first novel" vibe from this for sure ... in that she seemed to have SO many good things to write/ideas to share that she just inserted gratuitous paragraphs/plotlines that really did nothing for the story. Nice to read those parts since she writes so beautifully, but unne ...more
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
I had to wait a couple days before I tried to write a review for this one. Sometimes I find it really difficult to explain why I loved something so much.

Nicole Krauss has been one of my absolute favorite authors since I first read The History of Love. I quickly thereafter picked up Great House and then just sort of put her on hold for a while I suppose, because I knew she didn't have any new work out and for whatever reason didn't come back to this one, her first novel. I'm wondering if I could
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was ok

So, my reading group virtually voted to kick me out of the group whenever they decided to move our monthly meetings from Thursday to Wednesday. It's okay that I couldn't make it to the most recent meeting because I seem to like this book much less than the other reading group members here on

It starts out with a thirty-something year-old man who has no memories since the age of 12. He has all these years and years of people who remember him and things that happened in his life but h
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Achingly poignant and sad. (why do I love books like this...?)
I was going to go with 4 or 4.5 stars, but I know already this will be one that will not leave my mind. Samson will live in there a long, long time.
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was ok
Having read this after History of Love, I suppose I expected more.... something. It's an okay, if strange, story, with writing that never begins to approach anything like History of Love. ...more
This was different from The History of Love & The Great House, the other two I have read from her. More science fiction/fantasy. Intriguing, actually. About a man whom enters into a psychology experiment in which he essentially borrows another person's mind....

Krauss illuminates quite ingeniously the idea that we are merely a collection of our memories. Minus them, can one really say whom we are? Delete our history, our memory, we have very little. The protagonist Samson Greene is discovered in
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
This book had a very interesting premise: a middle-aged man loses all his memory since he was 12 but still has the sophisticated mind of an adult: how does he cope?

Parts of the novel are very poignant-- mostly the scenes between Samson and his wife and Samson and his great uncle. Other parts really drag and seem caught up in vague ruminations on memory.

All in all, I don't think the book hung together too well and I much prefer her other novel, _A Brief History of Love_. Maybe since I loved that
Antara Basu-Zych
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book ranks in my list of favorite books of all time. The story is about a young man, Samson Greene, who seems to have everything -- a beautiful wife, a professorship at Columbia University, a home in NYC, good friends... a near-perfect life. But a strange tumor on his brain causes him to lose his memory -- all except the first 12 of his life. So the book starts with him wandering the desert near Las Vegas, mistaken for a homeless man, discovered by the police. His wife is called and by that ...more
Maggie Campbell Obaid
"She's lovely. Beautiful and kind and what's not to like? but why her and not someone else?"

"That place just beyond everything she knows for sure."

"Who was I? What did I care about? What did I find funny, sad, stupid, painful? Was I happy? All of those memories I accumulated, gone. Which one, if there could have been only one, would I have kept?"

"He knew she liked him but couldn't say why, and now he wondered whether she became so quickly intimate with everyone she stumbled across."

" 'And for a
Laala Kashef Alghata
I love Nicole Krauss. I read The History of Love mid 2006. I loved it, but for some reason did not hunt for other books the author had written. Perhaps I had a long enough To Read list as it was. Earlier this summer I stumbled upon this book, and after recalling how much I loved the first book of hers I’d read, decided to give her debut a go.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read it almost start to finish without putting it down. I put it down just the once, and because I had to. I loved Samson, I love
Mar 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Favorite excerpt:

"He inched towards her until their sides were touching, arm to arm, leg to bare leg. Sam? she whispered. Do you think--- This was Jollie Lambird, whom he had been in love with since the second grade, and he was ready to answer any question she might have for him. But he didn't hear the rest of it because just then he kissed her, a kiss that may have lasted for hours while porch lights shuddered and went out across the neighborhood. While stars themselves lit up or went out, star
What if a brain tumor causes you to lose all memories of your life after the age of 12? That's what happened to Samson Greene. One day he's an English professor at Columbia University and the next, he's found wandering in the Nevada desert, with no memory of his name, what he's doing in the desert, that he's married, who his friends are, and that his mother's dead.

After the tumor has been removed, Samson has to deal with living in a house he doesn't remember, a wife he doesn't recognize and a li
May 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Samson Greene, a man who wakes up in a hospital, thousands of miles from home, after being found disoriented and alone in the desert. Initally Samson cannot remember his own name, and as memories slowly creep into his consciousness, he gets hit with the cruel reality that he has lost the past 24 years of his life due to a benign brain tumor in his temporal lobe. Samson's last memory is taken from a 12 year old's perspective and he suddenly finds himself being thrown into an ...more
Grace Viray
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gripping. Touching. Thought provoking.

What if you wake up one day with no memories of the years that have passed? Will you embrace the emptiness, start anew or go searching for answers of those echoes of the past that have shaped you to who you are at the present? Will you hold on to the people around you, who remember you as you have been, or cut them from your life, turn over a new leaf?

Krauss, a very talented writer, capable of stirring into her readers such thoughts and lead them into intros
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
I finished The History of Love wanting to read anything else by Nicole Krauss, and picked up Man Walks Into a Room the next day.

This was a much more difficult book for me to get into, and ultimately I never really did. It's a very internal book, which makes sense given that it's about a man who loses several years of memory to a brain tumor. The memory loss affects his feelings towards his wife, as well as his knowledge and ability to practice his profession. In the first half in particular, the
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is beautifully written. The book is about a man who has a brain tumor and loses all his memories from ages 12-36. He retains his childhood memories up until age 12 and is able to make new memories but 24 years of his life are just gone. I tried to imagine losing all the moments that make you who are and not only having all these personal events occur and not remember them, but also the events that go on in the world and having no idea what's going on. Losing the happy moments seem to h ...more
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am a big Nicole Krauss fan. Oddly enough (well, probably because I was only 12 when it was published), I hadn't read her first novel, and this was unacceptable to me. I liked the first half of this novel, but I admittedly wasn't impressed by it, as it seemed to lack the momentum, mystery, and intricacy that "The History of Love" and "Great House" exhibit from the start. And that is probably true; it was her first published book. But the second half of the novel is where all of the "Krauss-like ...more
Joan Winnek
"I've been lonely my whole life. For as long as I can remember, since I was a child. Sometimes being around other people makes it worse. . . . When you're young, you think it's going to be solved by love. But it never is. Being close--as close as you can get--to another person only makes clear the impassable distance between you." [pp. 124-125:]

"His mind had filled with the detritus of recollection, and then, as a final humiliation, it had been broken into and vandalized. . . . no matter how gre
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I once knew an art professor who would buy multiple copies of books he liked. He would put one in his back pocket and when he ran into a friend, whip out the book and give it to his friend. This is that sort of book: I want to buy a few copies and give them out to the people I love.

But don't get me wrong: this is not necessarily a cheery, upbeat book.

I may be peculiar; I am drawn to books about people who have lost their memories. The first book of the Monk series, by Anne Perry, for example. Ma
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Nicole Krauss is the author of the international bestseller The History of Love, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2005. It won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger, was named #1 book of the year by, and was short-listed for the Orange, Médicis, and Femina prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was a finalist for the ...more

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“You fall in love, it's intoxicating, an for a little while you feel like you've actually become one with the other person. Merged souls, and so on. You think you'll never be lonely again. Only it doesn't last and soon you realize you can only get so close and you end up brutally disappointed, more alone than ever, because the illusion-the hope you'd held on to all those years-has been shattered.” 85 likes
“He spoke of human solitude, about the intrinsic loneliness of a sophisticated mind, one that is capable of reason and poetry but which grasps at straws when it comes to understanding another, a mind aware of the impossibility of absolute understanding. The difficulty of having a mind that understands that it will always be misunderstood.” 80 likes
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