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June 16, 2005 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-06-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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6/16
2005

50

SAND EE B RAWARS KY

he History of Love is the
name of a book within
Nicole Krauss' remarkable
new novel of the same name, The
History of Love (Norton; $23.95).
The inner novel has had a life of
its own. Written in Yiddish in
Poland and thought to be lost,
translated into Spanish in Buenos
Aires, unbeknownst to the author,
and later into English in New York,
it drew on real love and also
inspired love, fired up lives. If this
were a love letter rather than a
novel, it would be a chain letter,
broken but ultimately reconnected.
Krauss visits Borders in Ann
Arbor on Friday, June 17, to share
her novel with readers.

The theme of memory is central to the
work of Nicole Krauss.

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Nicole Krauss' novel-within-a-novel centers
on a retired locksmith who loses his first love
— and manuscript.

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i

Leo Gursky, a retired locksmith liv-
ing alone in New York City, who
makes a daily commotion in some
public place to be sure that he
doesn't die without being noticed,
is the unlikely romantic who's the
original author of The History of
Love. He wrote it while living in
Poland, when he was very much in
love with a girl named Alma.
Jews weren't safe in their town of
Slonim, and he lost Alma, who left
for America before he did, and he
gave the manuscript to a friend for
safekeeping.
Years later, at age 57, Gursky,
after suffering a heart attack, cur-
tails his work. He begins a new
book, writing daily.
He muses: "At times, I believed
that the last page of my book and

the last page of my life were one
and the same, that when my book
ended, I'd end, a great wind would
sweep through my rooms carrying
the pages away, and when the air
cleared of all those fluttering white
sheets the room would be silent,
the chair where I sat would be
empty."
Gursky is a man whose suit does-
n't quite fit, who's always late ("I've
always arrived too late for my
life"). A magnet for small mishaps
at inopportune times, he's cranky
and lonely, although still a poetic
observer. "Story of my life: I was a
locksmith. I could unlock every
door in the city. And yet I couldn't
unlock anything I wanted to
unlock."
Also living in New York is a
young girl named Alma, who

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