What I Read… Great House, Part 2

Perhaps one of my resolutions should have been to blog more often / at all. Getting back to school meant a failure in my ability to keep up with posts, which is a pretty sad thing considering the part where I’d only managed two posts before.

However, returning to school has not (as of yet) resulted in a failure to read for fun. Not only did I finish Great House, but I also read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and I’m currently reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Within the next few days, dear readers who do not exist, expect some more reviews / favorite quotation entries.

Title: Great House

Author: Nicole Krauss

Completed?: Yep! A little while ago, in fact… a week or two or so ago.

Spoiler-free Opinions: HOLY COW READ THIS. Again, Krauss’s skills with words are incredible. I was reading some of the reviews over on Goodreads, and a lot of the complaints seemed to be about the lack of plot line running through the work, given that it calls itself a novel. This lack of plot line also, apparently, lead to a boring read. As an avid lover of words, however, I find myself disinclined to agree. While the plot wasn’t a riveting adventure novel, the desk is what we’re following; the novel isn’t going to be standard in this respect. Desks don’t act, people do, and since the sets of characters are different, the plot is going to follow different directions. There is more of a focus on words and characterization than on the “plot” these reviewers are so missing, but I don’t think it hurts the book. If you love words and insights into human emotions, you’ll like this.

These reviewers were also angry that the book is being called a “novel” when there isn’t a single plot line running through the entire work, and to them I say PFFT. Since when are there stringent and strict definitions of different genres and types of literature? Definitions are guidelines, not strict lines.

Another complaint was on the lack of distinction between the different narrators. This… I kind of agree with. The variation comes from the audience the narrator is narrating to (Your Honor, you, or just a general narration), not from the style of writing or narrating. But I love Krauss’s writing style so much that I didn’t mind or notice until I read the complaints. Some more variation would have been nice, but I still really highly recommend this.

A few more favorite quotes and phrases:

“When we die, you said, we’ll be hungry” (Loc. 2641-42).

“…the smell of his sleep…” (Loc. 3163-64).

“Tell me about her, I said, but he said nothing and turned away to hide the contortion that seized his face, a split second only in which all of his features collapsed and another face came through, a face he quickly wiped away with his sleeve” (Loc. 3356-58).

“I allowed myself another body, the one I had before mine began to blur and lose shape and go off in a different direction from me, the one who existed inside of it” (Loc. 3442-43).

“Through eyes blurred by tears, I scanned the trees for a figure in the landscape. Hatless. Coatless, perhaps. Quickly drawn, as the masters sometimes drew a portrait of themselves hidden in a dark corner of canvas or concealed in a crowd” (Loc. 3599-600).

“There was a woman holding a barefoot child, a child who was utterly still and silent, like the eye of a storm” (Loc. 3625-26).

“…and suddenly, out of nowhere, the way news of oneself so often arrives, it dawned on me what a ridiculous thing it was to have dedicated one’s life to being a scholar of the so-called Romantic poets” (3884-86).

“She looked out the window. The silence unspooled between us” (Loc. 4287-88).

“When I was a boy, I wanted to be in two places at the same time. It became an obsession of mine, I spoke of it endlessly. My mother laughed, but my father, who carried two thousand years with him wherever he went the way other men carry a pocket watch, saw it differently” (Loc. 4288-91).

“I taught them that no matter the view from the window, the style of the architecture, the color of the evening sky, the distance between oneself and oneself remains immutable” (Loc. 4296-97).

Stars: 4.25

READ IT.

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