Who: Nicole Krauss
What: Talking Volumes with MPR’s Kerri Miller
Where: The Fitzgerald Theater
When: Oct. 28th
Cost: Sold out
When she was younger, Nicole Krauss travelled with family to London, Jerusalem and New York, settling southeast of San Francisco at Stanford University for her undergraduate degree.
“I haven’t really seen a lot of the United States,” Krauss said, “[But] it’s actually helped in my writing.”
The unfamiliarity with her home country would prove to be an asset, indeed. Scenes from Europe and her now-home base, Brooklyn, have been compiled into her three major novels since 2002.
Poetry was her forte to begin with, though. She had been writing and publishing within the genre throughout high school and college and was known to operate comfortably in that style. Then, suddenly, she felt stuck.
“I realized that I needed to take a break from poetry because I wasn’t coming up with any new ideas, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of it. I turned to the novel as just a sort of writing exercise to get things flowing, and then I ended up really liking it,” said Krauss.
What emerged from this creative block was “Man Walks into a Room,” sparking considerable interest in her work in the fiction-writing world. Interweaving solitary, semi-autobiographical accounts with intimate insights and meditative soliloquizing, the book launched her now-recognizable style.
“Almost all of [my stories] are personal to me in one way or another. A great majority of these things have been either told to me, or I’ve had a personal experience with them,” Krauss said.
“The History of Love” came soon after, accelerating her acclaim and creating an aura of excellence.
Using the same style, as well as familial experiences abroad, the writer integrated scenes that can hardly be called fiction. The details surrounding Leo Gursky and Alma Singer are so startlingly precise that it’s almost disappointing to hear that Krauss is nowhere near admitting it’s a nonfiction work.
“Keep in mind that a good majority of these things are imaginary. I do incorporate details, but only to enrich the story,” Krauss explained. “Creating these works is an imaginative process, and the only fact-checking I do is when I make sure to use the correct dates and if I’m revising and need to look up a street name.”
Her newest, “Great House,” maintains the focus on historical artifacts and the entwined entities attached to them. The nucleus of “Great House” is a desk, holding within it the links to connect otherwise-unfamiliar characters. A novel behaves as the centerpiece of “The History of Love,” operating under the same function.
Recently named one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” and now a finalist in the 2010 “National Book Award” for fiction, Krauss is likely to reverberate within the literary sphere in perpetuum with the talent she holds.
The sorrowful evolution of missed connections, found truths and the realization of fulfillment based on informational lack within “Great House” is staggering. Undulating waves of lamentation may crash upon the reader, but knowing it is partly fiction may provide relief. And despite the heaviness of it, you can at least fawn over Krauss’ incomparable prose.
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