Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Great House, by Nicole Krauss, connects people, not by relationships to each other, but to a large desk. The silent main character is a hulking wooden mass of drawers, owned by (perhaps) the great poet Lorca, a Chilean writer tortured by the police in his country, a woman reeling from the loss of her only child during the Holocaust, a modern writer who feels the loss of the desk as a physical pain, a woman who watches her lover's father drive himself to solitude while recreating his own father's office. It's a beautifully written, touching story of how our possessions can come to define us, and the delicate cord that holds families together.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and characters, I did find that some of the passages seemed to drag, and I had a hard time reading it for more than, perhaps, 50 pages at a time. Because there is so much exposition and inner dialogue, it could be difficult to imagine the physicality of the characters; I love having a good image in my head of what's going on. Most of this book, if it were going to be drawn out, would be a person staring into space while deep in thought, without much action. Of course, there are some passages where something happens, and it brings the story right back into focus. Not a beach read; you'll need to spend more time on these themes and characters than that.