Liz's Reviews > Great House

Great House by Nicole Krauss
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's review
Nov 28, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: started-and-dropped

I almost made it to page 100. I was thinking that the narrative was quite loose, plot developments subtle with a heavy focus on the characters' inner lives, a bit more intellectual than I typically choose, but I was soldiering on, trying to prove my literary merit as a reader. Hey guys, wait for me, I could have been an English major too! But when I read the following sentence, which occupies half of page 95, I gave myself permission to hang it up:

"But they didn't come, and so I continued to sit there hour after hour watching the unrelenting rain slosh against the glass, thinking of our life together, Lotte's and mine, how everything in it was designed to give a sense of permanence, the chair against the wall that was there when we went to sleep and there again when we awoke, the little habits that quoted from the day before and predicted the day to come, though in truth it was all just an illusion, just as solid matter is an illusion, just as our bodies are an illusion, pretending to be one thing when really they are millions upon millions of atoms coming and going, some arriving while others are leaving us forever, as if each of us were only a great train station, only not even that since at least in a train station the stones and tracks and the glass roof stay still while everything else rushes through it, no, it was worse than that, more like a giant empty field where every day a circus erected and dismantled itself, the whole thing from top to bottom, but never the same circus, so what hope did we really have of ever making sense of ourselves, let alone one another?"
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06/06/2016 marked as: started-and-dropped

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Claire (new)

Claire Coming from an English major, that sentence doesn't pass as good writing. Makes me wonder whether her editor was on vacation.

message 2: by Spencer (new)

Spencer At least Proust had an excuse to ramble on. . .
You know, Cormac McCarthy only needs three words to make his descriptions vivid. He doesn't even use punctuation. I think I fell asleep three time reading this passage. ZZzzzz. . . .

Maggi I had not noticed but you are so right. A ponderous, weighty and ridiculously self conscious sentence.

Becky Two things: don't confuse a character's nauseating rambling with a writer's. If the character rambles and wanders, it's what he does. Don't judge him. Just listen.

The other thing: all of Krause's narrators, as characters, had strains of this wandering, which got to be a little see-through and made the writer herself a little too visible to me.

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