Cecily's Reviews > The History of Love

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
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it was amazing
bookshelves: canada-and-usa, lit-crit
Read 4 times. Last read January 24, 2016 to January 31, 2016.


My review of this wonderful book is HERE .

What follows below is not a review. This page is a collection of lists about the story, characters, and themes, showing the many and complex connections between them, but without any emotional response or analysis.

It is almost entirely made up of spoilers, so don't read it if you have not read the book - and maybe not even then.

(view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Other Paperback Edition)
Finished Reading
January 24, 2016 – Started Reading (Other Paperback Edition)
January 24, 2016 – Started Reading
January 24, 2016 – Shelved (Other Paperback Edition)
January 24, 2016 – Shelved as: canada-and-usa (Other Paperback Edition)
January 24, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fict-... (Other Paperback Edition)
January 24, 2016 –
page 35
13.89% "Beautiful, though I fear it might break my heart as well." (Other Paperback Edition)
January 25, 2016 –
page 75
29.76% "Beautiful, contradictory, painful, provocative ideas, in a multi-layered story, from three very different viewpoints (so far) - plus a walk-on part for JL Borges." (Other Paperback Edition)
January 27, 2016 –
page 111
44.05% "“So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves.”" (Other Paperback Edition)
January 27, 2016 –
page 135
53.57% "Beauty in silence and gaps: the silence between notes of music, the pauses of punctuation. \n "Where his friend saw dappled light, the felicity of flight, the sadness of gravity, he saw the solid form of the common sparrow."\n p114 and p116" (Other Paperback Edition)
January 28, 2016 –
page 170
67.46% "This is like Newton's Third Law interpreted as poetic allegory. Every force is counterbalanced by an equal and opposite force: truth and lies, writing and reading, taking and giving, hiding and being seen, life and death." (Other Paperback Edition)
January 31, 2016 –
page 252
100.0% "What a book.\n What a book?\n What a task to write a review that does it justice.\n TBW..." (Other Paperback Edition)
January 31, 2016 – Finished Reading (Other Paperback Edition)
January 31, 2016 – Finished Reading
February 3, 2016 – Shelved
February 3, 2016 – Shelved as: favourites (Other Paperback Edition)
February 3, 2016 – Shelved as: canada-and-usa
February 3, 2016 – Shelved as: lit-crit
April 4, 2016 – Shelved as: read-only-cos-of... (Other Paperback Edition)
June 30, 2016 –
page 0
0.0% "Time for a reread. There is so much I surely missed first time round, especially in the early pages, before I'd quite got to grips with what it was."
July 12, 2016 –
page 255
100.0% "Finished for the second time this year. (Both reviews will be tweaked, but not by much.)"
October 7, 2017 – Shelved as: bildungsroman (Other Paperback Edition)

Comments Showing 1-39 of 39 (39 new)

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Cecily Thanks, Fatty. I found myself making even more notes than usual. I really hope no one reads them unless they've read the book (hence double spoiler tags), but I will refer to it and add to it when I reread the book, as I know I will. There must be lots that I missed - especially early on, when I didn't know what would become significant.


Dolors Cecily,
Loved the double spoiler warning.
Loved to remember Leo described as "the locksmith who couldn’t unlock the truth", (view spoiler).
Loved the list of "ways of postponing death".
You put much work into this list, which I am bookmarking, as I just decided I need to re-read this book (probably using this link as a reading guideline!)


Cecily Thank you, Dolors. I don't reread many books, and when I do, there's usually a considerable gap. This book won't wait that long - a few months at most. And then I expect this collection of lists will get longer!


message 4: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I tried to work out an Outline of Leo Gursky's Life, which I posted here:

https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...

Beware of spoilers obviously!


Cecily That's really excellent, Ian, and you spotted at least one key thing that I hadn't. Thanks.


Elizabeth wow. just wow.
I LOVE THAT YOU DID THIS.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3


Cecily I loved doing it.
Thank you, Elizabeth.


Magdelanye would that i would have had such a guide when I stumbled upon this amazing book.
You have been Busy!


Cecily Thank you, Magdelanye, but don't you think it would have spoilt it for you if you'd had so many spoilers at your fingertips and not been able to work things out for yourself, at the speed Krauss intended?


Violet wells Interesting how few references there are to Bird. Kind of confirms my hunch that not only could the novel live without him but might have been even better without him than it is!


Violet wells Have you read Foer, Cecily? I can't find a review if you have. I think what most annoyed me about Bird was that he bore all the traits of a Foer character and it felt like Krauss' immense talent for character study was being interfered with by her husband's influence. That was my take anyway.


Cecily Hi Violet. I've not read Foer, and I'm not in a huge rush to do so now (you're not the only person to suggest awkward parallels). As for Bird, have a look at Ian's comment #25 on my main review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
And Ian's own, brilliant, review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Violet wells Cecily wrote: "Hi Violet. I've not read Foer, and I'm not in a huge rush to do so now (you're not the only person to suggest awkward parallels). As for Bird, have a look at Ian's comment #25 on my main review:
ht..."


That's fascinating and i'll have to read it again now with the paleontologist theme in mind. Nicole Krauss ought to send Ian a bouquet of flowers at the very least for that review!


message 14: by Ian (last edited Feb 05, 2016 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Violet wrote: "Interesting how few references there are to Bird. Kind of confirms my hunch that not only could the novel live without him but might have been even better without him than it is!"

Oh no! Now that's what I call character assassination! I try to resuscitate Bird in the thread of Cecily's other review!


Cecily I'd already decided this was a book I'd have to reread very soon. This Bird talk is making the case even more strongly - and when I do, this review will doubtless grow even longer. Thank you, both.


Violet wells Ian wrote: "Violet wrote: "Interesting how few references there are to Bird. Kind of confirms my hunch that not only could the novel live without him but might have been even better without him than it is!"

O..."


As I recall one of my objections to Bird was he seemed like a pair of trousers her husband had encouraged her to wear but didn't really suit her, Ian. Your observations about the paleontologist and him bringing back his findings to the arc is fascinating. Nevertheless, I still sense I'll have a problem with his whimsy just as I had a problem with Foer's Oscar in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Have you read Foer?


message 17: by Ian (last edited Feb 05, 2016 03:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I've read the Foer, but pre-GR. I think I saw the film after I read "The History of Love".

I think Krauss is more allegorical than Foer in the context of these two books, and therefore I found her more enjoyable as a literary experience.

There is a similarity of interest in the two books. However, I see it as purely a competition to go off and write something about the same topic, and then compare notes when they had finished, just like a project in an MFA.

Bird is more of a sketch than a fully-drawn character, possibly because he's a little brother of 11 years age. This is why I think of the paleontologist in him as a "child detective". He strikes me more as a little boy in a Michael Chabon (boys own) adventure.

I don't want to build up excessive expectations of Bird. Just to encourage people to let him fly around the world, find things and bring them back to us. (Which in the context of the Holocaust, is a sort of reverse diaspora.)


Cecily Ian wrote: "I don't want to build up excessive expectations of Bird. Just to encourage people to let him fly around the world, find things and bring them back to us. (Which in the context of the Holocaust, is a sort of reverse diaspora.) "

I want to highlight that for when I reread.


Violet wells To use an Italian football simile, I think Krauss is Serie A to Foer's Serie B, Ian. Couldn't you also say that what you attribute to Bird is also the assignment Krauss sets the reader? I was made to feel like a detective and a paleontologist while reading it. That was a big part of my love for the novel - how involved she got me in sleuth work and archaeological deciphering.


message 20: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I wouldn't want to relegate Foer until I assess his form!

I totally agree with the analogy between Bird and Krauss, and the implications for the reader. See also Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49" (which deals with an estate, i.e., a material legacy).


message 21: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate Taken with your first review, Cecily, which is itself a grab bag of trouvailles, you have clearly spent a LOT of time with this book, parsing it like a sacred text…

…which, I agree, it almost is! R.


Cecily Roger wrote: "...you have clearly spent a LOT of time with this book, parsing it like a sacred text…
…which, I agree, it almost is! R."


Thank you, Roger. I'm now rereading it - without taking notes (well, barely), which is a novelty for me. My intention is to spot a few things I didn't before and so to end up with a deeper vision of the whole: micro and macro. These two reviews will probably be tweaked, but I'm not intending to rewrite them, or even add a great deal.


message 23: by Apatt (last edited Jul 01, 2016 05:45PM) (new)

Apatt Great review collection of lists about the story, characters, and themes, Cecily. I can honestly it is the greatest collection of lists about the story, characters, and themes I have had the pleasure of reading. Not to be missed by connoisseurs of lists.

"so don't read it if you have not read the book - and maybe not even then."
You shouldn't have done that! That just brings out my rebellious "Oh yeah??" side, and I clicked on it with gleeful abandon and now I'm scarred for life (╥﹏╥)

Among the "Ways of Postponing Death" there's no mention of that famous research by the Exeter University?


Cecily Apatt wrote: "...Not to be missed by connoisseurs of lists."

LOL. And are you one such?

You did notice that this is the appendix to my proper review, didn't you? (It's just that when I decided to reread the book, I accidentally moved this one to the Currently Reading shelf.)


Apatt wrote: ""so don't read it if you have not read the book - and maybe not even then."
...That just brings out my rebellious... I clicked on it with gleeful abandon "


As the saying goes:
Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you.
Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he’ll have to touch it to be sure.


Apatt wrote: "Among the "Ways of Postponing Death" there's no mention of that famous research by the Exeter University?"

Fortunately, farting isn't mentioned in the book, so need to put it in my review.


Patty I would like to share this with my book group. Is that okay with you?


message 26: by Cecily (last edited Nov 14, 2016 02:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cecily Patty wrote: "I would like to share this with my book group. Is that okay with you?"

Hi Patty. Thanks for asking, and that's fine. I'd be honoured (just as long as you say whence it came, as I'm sure you would). But you did notice this is more of an appendix to my actual review, didn't you?


Patty I did notice and that is why I find it so interesting. I think some people will find your connections fascinating. The hard part will be dealing with the folks who haven't finished. Your discussion here has really added to my understanding. Thank you!


Cecily I hope you have a really worthwhile and wide-ranging discussion. If you remember, let me know how it goes.


message 29: by Suzy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suzy Thanks for these lists, Cecily! There is so much to notice (or not) in The History of Love, that these lists have got my mind whirling. Just finished it a couple of days ago. I think I will do a reread at some point - wonder how this would be in audio. I'm so glad I read in print the first time because the design of the book makes a contribution in itself along with the words.


Cecily Suzy wrote: "Thanks for these lists, Cecily! There is so much to notice (or not) in The History of Love, that these lists have got my mind whirling...."

Thanks, and your comments have reminded me how much Ioved this and reminded me that I want to read more of her work.

Suzy wrote: "I think I will do a reread at some point - wonder how this would be in audio...."

I can't help on that count. Audio goes in one ear and out the other for me.


message 31: by Suzy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suzy Cecily wrote: "Suzy wrote: "Thanks for these lists, Cecily! There is so much to notice (or not) in The History of Love, that these lists have got my mind whirling...."

Thanks, and your comments have reminded me ..."


I'll let you know! When I reread, I will do audio with the print book in front of me - glad I own it!


Cecily Suzy wrote: "When I reread, I will do audio with the print book in front of me - glad I own it!"

Neat!


message 33: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will Ansbacher Loved your review, and this textual analysis even more! I read The History of Love with a pad and pencil in hand - at least I did the second time - but I didn't make a fraction of the connections you did here.


Cecily Will wrote: "Loved your review, and this textual analysis even more! I read The History of Love with a pad and pencil in hand - at least I did the second time - but I didn't make a fraction of the connections..."

Thanks, Will. I enjoyed the way you explained the value of rereading this book in your own review.


message 35: by Alan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alan Just completed The History of Love and one question I cannot get my mind around (am I being dense?)- Who arranged the Central Park meeting?


Cecily Alan wrote: "Just completed The History of Love and one question I cannot get my mind around (am I being dense?)- Who arranged the Central Park meeting?"

Um, now you've got me. I'm afraid I don't remember - despite my copious notes. I hope you find the answer.


message 37: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will Ansbacher Cecily wrote: "Alan wrote: "Just completed The History of Love and one question I cannot get my mind around (am I being dense?)- Who arranged the Central Park meeting?"

Um, now you've got me. I'm afraid I don't ..."


It was Bird - accidentally, because he was clueless about the real connection between Leo and Alma.


Emily wonderful!

glad to see i wasn’t alone in believing bruno might have been a figment of leo’s imagination. believing it made their race to catch the train for recovering “words for everything” very humorous for me!


Cecily Emily wrote: "wonderful!
glad to see i wasn’t alone in believing bruno might have been a figment of leo’s imagination ..."


Thanks, Emily. (And hope you glanced at my proper, reflective review, not just this colder, encyclopaedic one).

Emily wrote: "believing it made their race to catch the train for recovering “words for everything” very humorous for me! "

I can't say it struck me as especially humorous, but it's always interesting to view a loved book from another angle.


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