Thursday, February 19, 2009
Yesterday I walked to the nearby used book store, having recently finished the last of the books in my 'to read' pile. I pored over the shelves for an hour, picking books up and putting them down, reading back covers and wiping the dust onto my khaki pants. I left with four books: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Ambassadors by Henry James, and The Wise Men of Chelm , in Yiddish, which I think is anonymous. I came home and opened a book straight away. This morning, I finished The History of Love. I had only meant to read for a few minutes but as soon as I opened the book everything else vanished and it was me and these words so exquisitely revealing their secrets in pauses and spaces and letters snuggling up against one another and pushing from syllable to syllable in a forward-moving-dance to the very last page. It was beautiful, the characters so real in their struggles to be ordinary and extraordinary, to understand their own lives and reach out from their loneliness to one another, to be alone but be connected, to be seen and not to be seen, to live, love, and die. They are quirky, longwinded and terse, imaginative and hopeless, stuck and moving, receding and progressing. They speak in their own nuanced voices and yet the novel holds together. It isn't perfect, and there were moments of which I was less fond, but I think it might be one of the most close to perfect novels I've read in a long time. I think I may have found a new favorite book.