Monday, August 10, 2009

The History of Love

This morning, while sipping my Uncle Kevin's cold brewed coffee, which really deserves it's own post, and munching on a chewy sesame seed bagel (a leftover from our weekend in the Berkshires, which was as usual, WONDERFUL), I finished this novel, with moist eyes.

While in NYC Laura lent me a book, On Love (see side bar) and Rebecca gave me a Norton book, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. (She has recently been promoted to PUBLICIST at Norton, congrats cousin Reb). I have been reading On Love and find it interesting for it's somewhat comical, philosophical ramblings on a love affair. But I found that I needed a break from it. I needed to read something with more of a narrative?

Today, if you can find it possible, go find a copy of A History of Love by NIcole Krauss. Krauss' writing is beautiful. The story is a bittersweet and intricate love story. And there are stories within the story. The title, A History of Love, is the title of a book written by one of the main characters.

Here is a passage I love (from the novel within the novel), and there are many:

"My heart is weak and unreliable. When I go it will be my heart. I try to burden it as little as possible. If something is going to have an impact, I direct it elsewhere. My gut for example, or my lungs, which might seize up for a moment but never yet failed to take another breath. When I pass a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself, or I'm at the bus stop and some kids come up behind me and say Who smells shit?- small daily humiliations- these I take, generally speaking, in my liver. Other damages I take in other places. The pancreas I reserve for being struck by all that's been lost. It's true that there's so much and the organ is so small. But. You would be surprised by how much it can take, all I feel is a quick sharp pain and then it is over.
Sometimes I imagine my own autopsy. Disappointment in myself: right kidney. Disappointment of others in me: left kidney. Personal failures: kishkes. I don't meant to make it sound that I've made a science of it. It's not that well thought out. I take it where it comes. It's just that I notice certain patterns. When the clocks are turned back and the dark falls before I am ready, this, for reasons I can't explain, I feel in my wrists. And when I wake up and my fingers are stiff, almost certainly I was dreaming of my childhood. The field where we used to play. The field in which everything was discovered and everything was possible. (We ran so hard we thought we would spit blood: to me that is the sound of childhood, heavy breathing and shoes scraping the hard earth.) Stiffness of the fingers is the dream of childhood as it's been returned to me at the end of m life. I have to run them under the hot water, steam clouding the mirror, outside the rustle of pigeons. Yesterday I saw a man kicking a dog and I felt it behind my eyes. I don't know what to call this, a place before tears. The pain of forgetting: spine. The pain of remembering: spine. All of the times I have suddenly realized my parents are dead, even now, it still surprises me, to exist in the world while that which made me has ceased to exist: my knees, it takes half a tube of Ben-Gay and a big production just to bend them. To everything a season, to every time I've woken only to make the mistake of believing for a moment that someone was sleeping beside me: a hemorrhoid. Loneliness: there is no organ that can take it all."


Laura L. said...

I LOOOOVE the History of Love. Kip had me read this and another similar one at nearly the same time (blanking on the other title).

A warning on On Love I forgot to give you: I really disliked it by the end... I gave it to you for some of the candid and fun insights at the beginning, but it got whiney and self absorbed (even more than at the start) and I found myself slogging through the last bit. So if you don't get back to finishing it, you won't miss much.

K8teebug said...

I love this book so much I found myself frantically writing down passages every five minutes. LOVE IT.

She has a new book out, Great House, which is so wonderful, I put it down for a few weeks, so I can wait to finish it.


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