Monday, November 18, 2013

Locks and translations

Book: The History of Love
Author: Nicole Krauss
Published: 2005 (Penguin)
Pages: 385

Shelving and organizing romance paperbacks every weekend has made me even more tired and cynical about artistic portrayals of love and the giant-ass yawning gap between that and the real stuff. It's exhausting, and one day I will break down and read one and tell you exactly how many times my soul rolled its eyes at someone's heaving bosoms. 

But not today. Although it was sandwiched between two really cheesy-looking tomes, this book was quirky and unexpected and heartbreaking in a these-are-real-people-with-real-emotions-and-this-could-really-happen way. 

It's told in alternating voices of a retired locksmith shut-in whose carefully reconstructed life is shaken by the discovery that he's got a famous writer for a son and the son just died, and a twelve-year-old girl who's trying to find love for her shut-in mom while she tracks down the real author of the book that got her mom and dad together. (Spoiler: it's the locksmith dude, only his friend stole it and published it when he immigrated to America first.)

Both the old man and the young girl have unique voices and operate their own systems of logic that make perfect sense to them but nobody else, which leads to their discovery of one another and draws neat parallels between their situations. 

I really liked how the book's main focus wasn't on some great starry romance but on the weird hidden working love of missed connections, with side tracks but not distractions into budding adolescence and discovering the unexpected indignities of old age.

Good read that proves the people, not the actual love, are the interest parts of a love story. Bookshelf!

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