Man Walks Into A Room by Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss is a fantastic writer. Her latest novel, Great House, has been on many "best of 2010" lists and was a finalist for the National Book Award. I read, and loved, The History of Love earlier this year. So, when I found her first, lesser-known novel, Man Walks Into A Room and Half Price Books, I knew I wanted to read it before I picked up Great House and once again, Nicole Krauss did not disappoint. Krauss' prose is some of the most eloquent I have ever read. Even if the story weren't all that interesting I would still read it, because her writing is so beautiful. But the story happened to be captivating as well.

Man Walks Into A Room explores the mind of a man who has lost 24 years of his memory. The only memories he holds are from his childhood, which offers a fascinating perspective from this lead character, Samson. A man who is free from his memories - a freedom the average person will never experience.
Although he was slowly beginning to understand the situation, he felt less as if he had forgotten time than as if time had forgotten him. That he'd fallen asleep in one life and somehow passed into this one along the axis of a consistent heartbeat, so that some memory of where he came from, of who he was, had stayed with him.
Krauss speaks to the mind's daydreams and everyday pleasures, as well as it's confusion and uncertainty. She explores human relationships in an honest way by examining true empathy and the familiar, sometimes silly habits we develop with each other - habits that connect us to one person alone, habits that are unique to a single relationship. She highlights the importance of childhood in the development of one's adult identity, and explores what it is that makes us human and what it means to experience love.
And yet, what else does it mean to be loved, Samson wondered, than to be understood?
After finishing this book, I like Krauss even more. The ideas in this book blew me away. She is an intelligent and creative writer that I will continue to recommend to readers. I look forward to Great House.

Publisher: Anchor Books, 2002


  1. This book sounds very good. Nicole Krauss is one of the many authors about whom my interest has been tweaked through your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I still haven't read anything by Nicole Krauss. It is great to know that even her lesser known books are good. I look forward to trying them.

  3. It's a fantastic subject she had. Umberto Eco wrote on a similar theme for his "Queen Loana" but he sadly turned it into an intellectual masturbation contest like only he can do so well. Nicole Krauss is starting to flirt with my readership. Good work.

  4. I'm going to have to pick up some Nicole Krauss - I've been hearing great things about her! I study neuroscience and love anything to do with the brain, even if it is fictionalized, so this book sounds particularly interesting to me.

  5. I liked when he holes himself up in the Vegas hotel room and watches the Weather Channel. What a great symbol of constancy - what a great way to juxtapose with Samson's gap in memory and notion that the world can disappear at any instant. Weather. It's always there.

    It's subtle little tactic, but that's the part that turned that novel from good to great for me.

    Which did you like better - this one or The History of Love?

  6. Viashnavi, That makes me happy :)

    farmlane, I hope you check her out someday. She is fantastic.

    Ben, "Flirt with your readership" - I like that :) You should give her a go.

    L.L., If that's the case I think you would really enjoy this novel.

    Greg, I didn't even think of it that way but you're right. There are a lot of scenes that work on many different levels. I think this would be a really great book for book clubs because after I finished it I really want to discuss it with someone else who read it. The point you brought up is very interesting. Also, the question you pose is hard for me to answer. I really liked them both for unique reasons. Of course they both have wonderful writing, but in THoLove I feel in love with Krauss' characters. I thought she did a really great job creating characters who were unique and memorable. The story was good, but the characters were what made the book, for me. But MWintoaRoom had such interesting ideas I found myself thinking about the human mind in ways I never have before. If I had to pick right now, I would chose MWintoaRoom, but to be fair I'd say I'd have to reread THofLove just to make sure. Actually, both are the type of novels that deserve a reread.

  7. I've loved everything Krauss has written so far and this is next on my list. She has such a brilliant way with words!

  8. Avid Reader, Have you read Great House yet?

  9. I've yet to read Krauss yet, so I need to catch up! Great review!

  10. I picked up History of Love at Half-Price a while ago but haven't had time to read it yet. Sounds like I need to keep an eye out for this one, too. And finally get around to reading "History."

  11. Glad you enjoyed it! I think her debut is still my favorite, and Great House comes in second, but Man Walks Into A Room didn't disappoint either... I'm so happy to have found others that love Krauss' books as I do!