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Man Walks Into a Room Paperback – November 11, 2003
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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From The New Yorker
When a tumor in his brain is discovered and removed, Samson Greene, an English professor in his thirties, finds himself afflicted by a peculiar kind of amnesia: he cannot remember anything that happened after he was twelve. Even as he struggles to connect with his wife, Anna, he thinks that he might prefer the blankness of his new life. Samson's loss takes place against a backdrop of secret experiments on human memory and the social implications of atomic testing, but it is his shadow-filled scrutiny of intimacy—as he wonders why he might have married this beautiful stranger, and whether he can love her—that is the book's real strength.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
“Casually dazzling . . . thoroughly riveting. (A)” --Entertainment Weekly
“[M]ysterious and compelling. . . . Krauss brings to her work a poet’s gift for seizing upon small but potent details. . . . [A] novel that . . . is hard to forget.” --Los Angeles Times Book Review
“By turns creepy, witty, austere, and vibey. . . . A major contribution to the art of collective obliviousness, a lonely meditation on the nature of memory and loss.” --Esquire
“[G]reat nuance and sophisticated prose that seduces you with its cadences. . . . You’ll savor the last page—and be hungry for future work from this talented author.” --The Washington Post Book World
“A provocative first novel. . .beautifully written, intellectually engaging. . .Krauss has a remarkable feel for what is ultimately unfathomable.”–Chicago Tribune
"[A] deft comedy of unfamiliarity... [A] lucid consideration of the metaphysics of mind-shuffling... Krauss celebrates the anything-but-simple art of human connection." –San Francisco Chronicle
“A meditative debut novel about the pleasures and dangers of forgetting. . .a chilling addition to the annals of amnesia lit." –The Village Voice
“A deeply philosophical novel, one that strikes upon the nagging paradoxes of modern life. . .With the character of Samson Greene, Nicole Krauss puts a human face on these concerns, and–in prose that shimmers with intelligence–tells us his potent and memorable story.” –The Sun-Sentinel
“Krauss’s work is both dreamy and precise, direct and mysterious, like a more austere Ellen Gilchrist or Ian McEwan.” –Bookforum
“Memory and the ramifications of losing it are explored with all the precision of a CAT scan. . . . Charges bravely into a tangle of difficult questions.” –San Diego Union-Tribune
“An evocative, finely written first novel that is a true work of fiction.” –A.M. Homes
“Unique. . . . Intriguing. . . . It is impossible to read this book without wondering what you would do in the same situation; that reason alone is enough to pick it up.” –The Denver Post
“Ambitious, cohesive, intelligent, precise and accomplished. . . . Remarkably fresh. . . . Everything in this novel works.” –The Raleigh News & Observer
“An incisive novel of self-invention.” –Details
“A sharp, impressive first novel that leaves one looking forward to her next outing.” –Santa Fe New Mexican
“Nicole Krauss, with this remarkably felt, sharp-witted debut novel, strides into the forecourt of American letters.” –Susan Sontag
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As background to this novel, I would point out a well known experiment recounted by the eminent neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran (cf. “Phantoms in the Brain”) concerning a man who could form no new longer term memories. In this experiment the man interacted with graduate students on a frequent (daily?) basis. Despite never remembering them, his emotional reactions to them depended on how pleasant his past interactions had been. Variables such as gender and comeliness of the students were controlled for. The point is that cognitive memory is not the only memory you have, and all forms of memory are not achieved through the same process, nor subject to the same lesions, etc. There are similar experiments with certain kinds of blindness where the blind person can in fact obtain visual images and later act on them without being consciously able to see.
garcia marquez said once that you have a novel when your characters stand up and become alive. The characters here stay flat on the page