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Review: “The History of Love” – Nicole Krauss (RATING:8/10)

27 March, 2008

This is the first book in a while that I’ve actually read only because of a recommendation. I was looking for something to do over my spring break, and my parents handed me this book. Sadly, it didn’t take very long, but the time it did take up was well spent. I really liked this book.

From the title, it sounds like it would be a romance. It is, and it isn’t. There are various love stories, but they aren’t really resolved, nor are they really current (to the story’s timeline, that is). But it ends really nicely, things are tied up, and everyone is happy. Most characters are Jewish (if not all?) and slip into using Yiddish terms (translated or otherwise) throughout the book. There’s a kid who thinks he’s the Messiah (but not in an insane way, but a more normal-seeming way, strangely), a girl who writes books on how to survive in the wild, an old ex-writer who spills things at the store just to be seen, and more.

The plot really centers around a book, entitled the History of Love (hence the title of the real book), and how it affected various people. My biggest critique of Krauss is that I loved this book-within-a-book. She includes long passages from it, and I really just wanted to read that book. It was written in a style very similar to Italo Calvino, actually, and my favorite parts of reading this book was when it was that book, if that makes any sense. So, that’s not even a critique, really. Just that I loved that other style, a more flowing, train-of-thought style. But I realise she couldn’t really have written the whol book like that, as it’s difficult to get a narrative across in that type of writing.

The only other thing I didn’t like about the book was a brief “Fight-Club”-esque twist at the end that didn’t really make any difference, nor sense. I won’t say it here, but it involves the old guy.

For a spring break book, this was wonderful. And, as you can see, I rated it highly. So check it out! Worth the read.

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