Lovemachine

Nicole Krauss newest, The History of Love, generates its own romance

Krauss' command of character is sometimes awe-inspiring: her Leo Gursky is as solidly constructed and convincing a New York Jew as anything Malamud came up with. Gursky, who doesn't even know his book has influenced so many to love and be loved—who's earned a living as a lowly locksmith—is funny, rueful, doddering, even hallucinatory, but still capable of soaring into ineffable states of longing and sadness. The 15-year-old Alma, though not quite as strong a character, is a moving portrait of a young girl yearning not just to find romantic love but to make her family whole. But what is more impressive than anything is Krauss' vision of a book that not only captures love but generates it, from one reader to the next. Like the characters who read (and sometimes rewrite) Gursky's book and whose own histories of love are so profoundly influenced by it, Krauss' The History of Love gives the uncanny sense that we too share the inspiration of and susceptibility to Gursky's vision. In a marvelous feat of imaginative daring and, well, chutzpah, Krauss has created a History of Love that could very well inspire the same passions in her readers that Gursky's book does for his. Too, I get the feeling that Krauss' novel may get passed from reader to reader, inscribed from lover to lover as the story they wish they could tell but which they have had no words for—until, blissfully, now.

Krauss: precocious, luminous
Krauss: precocious, luminous

THE HISTORY OF LOVE BY NICOLE KRAUSS; NORTON. HARDCOVER, 252 PAGES, $23.95.

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