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).
Something I’d like to make a regular feature here at wordtraveling is a weekly (or so) update on what I’m reading. This is mostly to keep me reading, even when I’m tempted by the big wide internet full of secrets and mystery and word games. (Let’s be real, reading is more interesting than hours of Text Twist.) But I also want to share any good works that I come across. So in an effort to keep myself accountable and offer reading suggestions, here is the first of a series of What I’m Reading entries.
Title: Great House
Author: Nicole Krauss
Completed?: Not yet. According to my Kindle*, I’m 47% of the way through.
Spoiler-free Opinions: So far, I’m loving this book. I read The History of Love over the summer and really enjoyed that, but I think I like Great House even more. Krauss has such a talent with words and an incredible grasp of human relationships. The novel in a sense follows a desk; it is broken into eight chapters and four sets of characters who are connected by this desk.
In an effort to keep this from becoming a book report, here are some of my favorite quotes thus far. (No worries; none of them will ruin the plot for you.)
Favorite Quotes Thus Far:
“There are moments when a kind of clarity comes over you, and suddenly you can see through walls to another dimension that you’d forgotten or chosen to ignore in order to continue living with the various illusions that make life, particularly life with other people, possible” (Loc. 219-21).
“And when I finally got there, when a word at last came along like a lifeboat, and then another and another, I greeted them with a faint distrust, a suspiciousness that took root and did not confine itself to my work. It is impossible to distrust one’s writing without awakening a deeper distrust in oneself” (Loc. 520-22).
“There is a fallacy that the powerful emotion of youth mellows with time. Not true” (Loc. 829-30).
“I don’t know what that’s supposed to tell you; nothing, except that we take comfort in the symmetries we find in life because they suggest a design where there is none” (Loc. 1219-20).
“Lotte stood looking up at it, kneading her hands in a way she sometimes did when she was thinking, as if the thought itself were lying inside her hands and she had only to polish it” (Loc. 1296-98).
“He awakened a hunger in me–not just for him, but also for the magnitude of life, for the extremes of all it has been given to us to feel” (Loc. 1757-58).
“When at last I came across the right book the feeling was violent: it blew open a hole in me that made life more dangerous because I couldn’t control what came through it” (Loc. 1909-10).
“I’d majored in English because I loved to read, not because I had any idea of what I wanted to do with my life” (Loc. 1910-11).
Verdict Thus Far: Read it. Do it.
*I apologize for the lack of page numbers; Kindles don’t want you to know page numbers, but they will tell you locations, as they don’t change with font size (unlike, I suspect, page numbers).