Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The History of Love

I've seen The History of Love on several other blogger's reading lists and after being made aware of the fact that the author, Nicole Krauss, is married to the author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a book I enjoyed only a couple of months ago, I made a reservation at the library.

In the mood for a romance, when it arrived, I bumped this book past others that have been sitting on my nightstand longer. At first, I was completely absorbed in the writing and Leo Gursky. I even told Emily this book might go on my list of Top Ten favorites. Oh, how I loved Leo's thoughts and his "But." and "And yet." sentences. So stretchy. Those frequently used simple sentences created a narrative of yearning and unfufillment that perfectly expressed Leo's character's disappointment in life.

When it was Alma's turn to speak and disclose, I wasn't nearly so infatuated. Her thoughts and questions lacked the honesty and pain that the much older Leo was able to possess, which makes sense as Alma was only fourteen. Still, I persevered and even enjoyed the minute and slow discoveries she was making.

This book is almost a mystery. The hows and the whys are confusing and it isn't until the end that the missing key is given which opens up the full heartache and confusion of all the characters. Unfortunately, by this time, I was much less enchanted with the entire story as I found way too many parallels with her husband's book that I had already read. They are both about Jewish people divided by a generation who come together through letters. They are both set in New York City with flashbacks to Germany during World War II. They both involve extremely precocious and unnaturally odd children who lose a parent and deal with their grief by setting out on an expedition of discovery. And they both end abysmally disappointing with dysfunction winning over true love. Sigh.

I think I would have loved this book had I read it first or only. Sadly, both books feel tainted to me now. Like, maybe....in a perfect world, I could have enjoyed Singing Bee on NBC. But then Fox came out with Don't Forget the Lyrics. Same idea, different show...I enjoy neither because I don't like copying.

These books don't plagiarize each other or anything, but there are too many similarities for either to be the original and the great books that they are supposed to me. Maybe they need to set their typewriters up in different rooms.

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