Nicole Krauss on identity and literature

Nicole Krauss on identity and literature


What I’m asking what I’m trying to provoke in the reader is basically this: I’ve been writing novels for 15 years now. I know that inside a book, when I’m writing a book, when you’re reading a book, we have a sense of the self that is largely expansive. You’re going to read the story of the history of love. We were just talking about the lines from Leo Gursky that you remembered. You become him in the act of reading the story about that old man. You identify with him, you pour your memory, your empathy, and who you are gains a facet of being. You grow with each character you read with each intimate life you step into literature with each landscape. You live, you grow your self. Then you close the book. Or I as a writer leave my writing room after you know living these worlds invent new scares. And you go back, and you pick up your kids from school, you do the shopping, and you’ve come to work. Your sense of self kind of collapses down to “This is who I am who I am and you know that I can’t really change it too much. But actually we also know the story that the self is a story. It’s a narrative that we’ve been telling since we were kids. Maybe it started with your mother who said to you like you’re like this and your brother’s like this, and then the story grows and grows and grows but it is a narrative and we need to tell a story of who we are because that’s what the brain needs. It needs coherence. Otherwise we don’t know how to go through the world. The question I have is why don’t we keep that sense of flexibility that we know we have when we enter into the world of literature art when we know we can expand ourselves and grow ourselves and be many many things. Why do we accept a story in this life in reality that is often maybe too small for us? It doesn’t fit us anymore or we we need more freedom or we feel it’s not accurate. I guess what I’m trying to say is in some, in many ways, we are a captain of those stories and they are expandable. So this Nicole, she begins in that place. The place of feeling the forms of her life, mother, wife, you know, daughter, and the forms of the novel telling stories, narrative. They’ve grown too small for her and she’s looking for more freedom. She’s looking for the courage to kind of break those old forms and change.

local_offerevent_note September 21, 2019

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