Excerpt of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
(Page 3 of 4)
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Once, it was a long time ago, I found Bruno lying in the middle
the living room floor next to an empty bottle of pills. He'd had
All he wanted was to sleep forever. Taped to his chest was a
GOODBYE, MY LOVES. I shouted
out. NO, BRUNO, NO, NO,
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!
I slapped his face. At last his eyes
fluttered open. His
gaze was blank and dull.
WAKE UP, YOU DUMKOP!
ME NOW: YOU HAVE TO WAKE UP!
His eyes drifted closed again. I dialed
911. I filled a bowl with cold water and threw it on him. I put
my ear to
his heart. Far off, a vague rustle. The ambulance came. At the
they pumped his stomach.
Why did you take all those pills?
the doctor asked.
Bruno, sick, exhausted, coolly raised his eyes.
WHY DO YOU THINK I
TOOK ALL THOSE PILLS?
he shrieked. The recovery room turned
everyone stared. Bruno groaned and turned toward the wall. That
I put him to bed.
I sighed and
turned to go.
Stay with me! he cried.
We never spoke of it after that. Just as we never spoke of our
of the dreams we shared and lost, of everything that happened
didn't happen. Once we were sitting silently together. Suddenly
one of us
began to laugh. It was contagious. There was no reason for our
but we began to giggle and the next thing we were rocking in our
howling with laughter, tears
streaming down our cheeks. A
wet spot bloomed in my crotch and that made us laugh harder, I
banging the table and fighting for air, I thought: Maybe this is
go, in a fit of laughter, what could be better, laughing and
and singing, laughing so as not to forget that I am alone, that
it is the
end of my life, that death is waiting outside the door for me.
When I was a boy I liked to write. It was the only thing I
do with my life. I invented imaginary people and filled
their stories. I wrote about a boy who grew up and got so hairy
hunted him for his fur. He had to hide in the trees, and he fell
with a bird who thought she was a three-hundred-pound gorilla. I
about Siamese twins, one of which was in love with me. I thought
scenes were purely original. And yet. When I got older I decided
wanted to be a real writer. I tried to write about real things.
I wanted to
describe the world, because to live in an undescribed world was
lonely. I wrote three books before I was twenty-one, who knows
happened to them. The first was about Slonim, the town where I
which was sometimes Poland and sometimes Russia. I drew a map of
for the frontispiece, labeling the houses and shops, here was
butcher, and here Grodzenski the tailor, and here lived Fishl
who was either a great
or an idiot, no one could decide, and
the square and the field where we played, and here was where the
got wide and here narrow, and here the forest began, and here
the tree from which Beyla Asch hanged herself, and here and
And yet. When I gave it to the only person in Slonim whose
cared about, she just shrugged and said she liked it better when
things up. So I wrote a second book, and I made up everything. I
it with men who grew wings, and trees with their roots growing
sky, people who forgot their own names and people who couldn't
anything; I even made up words. When it was finished I ran all
to her house. I raced through the door, up the stairs, and
handed it to
the only person in Slonim whose opinion I cared about. I leaned
the wall and watched her face as she read. It grew dark out, but
reading. Hours went by. I slid to the floor. She read and read.
she finished she looked up. For a long time she didn't speak.
said maybe I shouldn't make up
because that made it hard to
From The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Copyright Nicole Krauss
2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the
WW.Norton. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written
permission from the publisher.