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Nicole Krauss was born in New York in 1974. This is her first novel, which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Best Book Award. Her second novel, The History of Love, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in Brooklyn.
This elegiac first novel achieves a kind of beguiling dreamy tenderness as it tells the story of Samson Greene, a seemingly happy, well-adjusted English professor whose life is thrown wildly out of kilter by a small brain tumor. It is discovered only after he suddenly leaves home and is found wandering in the Nevada desert. Once the tumor is removed, he can remember nothing beyond the age of 12, so that his adult existence, his friends, his professional life and especially his wife, Anna, are a profound mystery to him. He and Anna try to resume their lives, but it is no good pretending that things can be as they were. Eventually Samson leaves again, this time for an experimental research station, also in the Western desert, where attempts are being made to graft the memories of one human into another's mind. Samson becomes friends with another resident at the station, an elderly eccentric called Donald, but when Donald's memories are grafted into Samson's mind, they are of a test nuclear explosion he witnessed as a young soldier. Adrift again, and even more disillusioned, Samson convinces himself he must find his medical records and also determine where his dead mother is buried; he succeeds in both endeavors, one with the aid of a drunken teenager in Las Vegas, the other with a senile uncle and achieves a kind of hard-won reconciliation to his lot. This outline of the story suggests a somber tale full of dark symbolism, but in fact it is surprisingly lighthearted, sharply observant and often touching. Krauss is a sure writer thoroughly in control of her material, and she creates, in Donald and Uncle Max, a pair of memorable characters. Only the ending, from the viewpoint of Anna, the lost wife, fails to bring quite the expected epiphany. (May 21) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Praise for The History of Love: 'Charming, tender and wholly original' J. M. Coetzee 'This is a wonderful novel, erupting with life . . . building to a perfect, heartbreaking end' Daily Mail
Imagine losing 24 years of memory everything that happened to you since just before starting seventh grade and the despair and utter loneliness you would feel when the memory of the girl you kissed at age 12 remains vivid while your wife is a stranger. This is Samson Greene after surgery to remove a brain tumor. Hearing of Samson's condition, a genius scientist asks him to participate in an experiment that consists of transferring another man's memory into Samson's emptiness. Samson doesn't deliberate long, as it sounds better than the limbo in which he exists, but the procedure goes terrifyingly awry. Trying to cope, Samson kidnaps (rescues?) Great Uncle Max from a nursing home in an attempt to find the burial place of his mother, whose death he cannot remember. Poet and critic Krauss has written a wonderful debut, full of shimmering sentences and real emotion, that raises provocative questions: Are we just a combination of habits that enable others to believe they know us? Is empathy possible without the other's memories? This debut will be welcomed in all collections of serious fiction. Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.