The History of Love by Nicole Krauss captured my attention with an unforgettable opening in the voice of the main character: "When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF S**T.”
To the casual observer, retired locksmith Leo Gursky is just
another bedraggled old man shuffling through the streets of New York
City. An immigrant from Poland, Leo feels so invisible that he
resorts to dropping items in stores on purpose and even takes a job as a nude
model for an art class in his efforts to be noticed.
No one can tell by looking at him that Leo once cultivated a profound
love and wrote a great book or that he lost his finest creation and his entire
family in the Holocaust. As a result of the domino chain of loss set in motion
by the Holocaust, Leo is unable to contact his only son, a famous writer, and
can only admire him from afar.
Elsewhere in the city, fourteen-year-old Alma is already no
stranger to loss. Her father died young, causing her mother to drift away psychologically
on the sea of her grief. Alma was named after a character in a book, also
called The History of Love, which her
father once gave to her mother. She begins to suspect that this character was
based on a real person and embarks on a quest to find out.
Leo and Alma’s stories begin to converge, leading them both to
surprising discoveries. Exquisitely written,
The History of Love won many literary
awards and was a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Book clubs may be interested in discussing the “story within a
story" literary device employed in this novel. Other examples of the “nested
narrative” or metafiction can be found in classics such as Don Quixote by Cervantes, Moby Dick by Melville, The Lord of The Rings by Tolkien and more recent books such as The Blind Assassin by Atwood and Fugitive Pieces by Michaels.
-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, Kings Park