Cover Image: To Be A Man

To Be A Man

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Member Reviews

"To Be a Man" is Nicole Krauss' first collection of short stories  and includes some previously published in magazines. There are some strong stories here for sure. 

The first one in the collection, "Switzerland" is a beautifully-captured commentary on women's coming of age and explorations with sex and power. Another strong story is "End Days" which follows a girl processing the end of her first relationship and the end of her parents' marriage against the backdrop of approaching fires in California. “I am Asleep But My Heart Is Awake”, about a middle aged woman in the aftermath of her father's death who visits his flat in Israel, and "The Husband", about a divorcee's coming to accept the random offering of husband that her widowed mother has taken in, both have surreal elements and tread artfully the line between reality and the imaginary. Other stories have a jarring angsty dystopian backdrop to them, such as "Future Emergencies" and "Amour" and don't render as well the writer's intentions and essentially miss the mark. The title story "To Be a Man" felt a little meandering with some strong sections. "In the Garden" instead was fairly innocuous and forgettable. 

Overall this is a 3.5 stars review - it made me want to explore more of Krauss' writing, as this is my first reading from her offering, as it may well be that she is a better novelist than short story writer. Thought a mixed bag, throughout my whole reading of the book I had no doubt in my mind: the woman can write. 

From "Switzerland": "She had gone further than anyone I knew in the game that was never only a game, one that was about power and fear, about the refusal to comply with the vulnerabilities one is born into."

From “I am Asleep But My Heart Is Awake”: "That I will get used to stepping over the stranger on my way to the kitchen because that is the way one lives, casually stepping over such things until they are no longer a burden to us, and it is possible to forget them altogether."

From "The Husband": "She isn't worried, not really, but because worry has always been the currency of love in her family, rarely does anyone miss an opportunity to express it."

"[...] he is finally released, returned to the family the same way he came to them,, only now with the awareness that the people who arrive to us from nowhere and nothing are only ever that: a gift, received without our having known to ask, with only the wonder of how life delivers and delivers."

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Nicole Krauss is absolutely fantastic. Her prose is always so luminous and memorable and true. Like many people, I was drawn to this book because I so fell on love with The History of Love when I read it years and years ago. This short story collection is a fantastic continuance of everything that I loved so much about her novel. There wasn't a single story in this collection that didn't engross me. They were all so dazzling and so human.
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Short stories about relationships and love. This book didn't match up to Krauss's previous work for me but she is a great writer and I would happily recommend this to any reader who enjoys short fiction.
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I was nervous going into this collection of short stories.  I loved he History of Love so much that I've been too scared to read another of Krauss' books in case it didn't live up to it...crazy, I know.  

It turns out I've been depriving myself needlessly, because if this book is anything to go by, she could never disappoint.  This is one of the best books I've read all year, and definitely one of the best short story collections I've ever read.  I don't think there is a single story in here that I didn't enjoy, there certainly wasn't the peaks and troughs that other collections usually have.  All of these stories felt fully fleshed out and resolved, even the shortest ones in the collection.

From the first story this book had my heart. A powerful tale of a young woman getting into dangerous territory when exploring her sexuality, as told by one of her more naive dorm mates who, in recounting this in later life, is able to apply the perspective she has gained now that she is older.  And I was left almost in tears by the story of an elderly man who is struck by a sudden need to protect his grandson from the pressures and restrictions of tradition and expectation when he meets him as a newborn.  Krauss explores a lot of themes rooted in the Jewish experience - something I haven't lived myself, and so I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about it through her exquisite storytelling.  She gets to the core of a lot of human emotions and thoughts, and sometimes the most powerful conclusions are in what she leaves unsaid.

I have Great House on my shelf, and now that I've reminded and reassured myself of what a fantastic writer Krauss is, I wont be putting it off any longer.
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This is a dazzling collection of short fiction exploring what it means to be in a couple, and to be a man and a woman in that perplexing relationship and beyond. In one of her strongest works of fiction yet, Nicole Krauss plunges fearlessly into the struggle to understand what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman, and the arising tensions that have existed from the very beginning of time. Set in our contemporary moment, and moving across the globe from Switzerland, Japan, and New York City to Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, and South America, the stories in To Be a Man feature male characters as fathers, lovers, friends, children, seducers, and even a lost husband who may never have been a husband at all.

The way these stories mirror one other and resonate is beautiful, with a balance so finely tuned that the book almost feels like a novel. Echoes ring through stages of life: aging parents and new-born babies; young women’s coming of age and the newfound, somewhat bewildering sexual power that accompanies it; generational gaps and unexpected deliveries of strange new leases on life; mystery and wonder at a life lived or a future waiting to unfold. To Be a Man illuminates with a fierce, unwavering light the forces driving human existence: sex, power, violence, passion, self-discovery, growing older. Profound, poignant, and brilliant, Krauss’s stories are at once startling and deeply moving, but always revealing of all-too-human weakness and strength.

This is a deeply thought-provoking and emotionally resonant anthology featuring ten interconnected stories that hold your interest throughout. Exploring those at different stages of their life cycle, there is hope and hopelessness, beauty in sadness and rumination on the all too fleeting transience of life itself, which although nothing new Krauss manages to make it all feel refreshingly original. Beautifully written and sharply observed, Krauss builds on the success of her previous works and illustrates why she is a force to be reckoned with. Simply exquisite. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
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This book is compiled of short stories about people, partners, families and friends at different stages in their lives. 
I love Nicole Krauss’ style of writing so much and have enjoyed many of her book yet these short stories weren’t as captivating as her usual novels for me. 
I really enjoyed the last short story the most. I feel the stories felt like extracts from a larger novels which left me wanting  more. 
If you’re a big fan of Nicole Krauss I’m sure you will love these stories, if only for her fantastic writing.
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A bravura collection which feels extraordinarily timely. Full of nostalgia, hope, and sad profundity, each story cast a new light on topics that with a less-accomplished author might feel care worn. Very enjoyable.
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Most of the stories in Nicole Krauss' collection are narrated through the voices of strong independent women, exploring their relationships with sons, fathers, brothers, husbands, and lovers. These are intelligent, thoughtful pieces, some played out against a backdrop of dramatic events - a rapidly moving bush fire, a refugee camp, in the shadow of 9/11 – spanning many parts of the world from Tel Aviv to Kyoto, Latin America to New York.  All inhabit carefully constructed vibrant worlds in which we’re immersed for a short time. Each story is sufficient unto itself, flowing easily from one to the next: a woman watches her 12-year-old, so sure of herself she faces down the male attention she’s already attracting, reminding her of the sexually adventurous young woman she knew when she was 13; a couple's passion is not enough to sustain one of them when the kindness of a friend throws a beam of light on her lover's nature; a daughter visits the Tel Aviv flat left to her by her beloved father and is astonished when a stranger lets himself in, claiming to be her father’s friend, who takes good care of her while treating the flat as his own.. Only one didn’t quite work for me, the titular story which explores masculinity through two very different men in separate sections which didn’t quite gel - a very small gripe for a collection of ten stories.  I hope this will be the first of many collections from Krauss..
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'He could have broken her in two with one hand, but either she was already broken, or she wasn't going to break...'

I'm generally not a fan of short story collections, but 'To Be a Man' really blew me away. What a powerful exploration of the relationship between men and women.

I usually find the switch between stories too jarring, but Krauss does a really good job of making each story accessible, and I was able to become absorbed within the first couple of pages every time.

I genuinely enjoyed every story in this collection. They were all fantastically written, beautiful and thought-provoking. There were so many memorable quotes which will I will think about for a long time to come, such as this one from 'The Husband':

'In the end everyone is alone, and the sooner one comes to terms with it, celebrates it, even the sooner one can begin to live...'

Strongly recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
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Initially I wasn’t sure of the path that this book was taking. As I read through the pages I enjoyed it more and more. The characters regardless of age  were magnificent. I thoroughly enjoyed this book . It took me longer to read than my usual books but I think I was digesting the material and when I read the last page I found I was was delighted to have read it.
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I loved her 'Great House' but this collection of stories doesn't seem to do justice to Krauss's gifts as a writer. Too many of them feel distanced and 'told', and (as is frequently the case with story collections) begin to be a bit samey. Definitely a book to be read in pieces to avoid that sense. 

That said, 'Switzerland' is wonderful and reminded me all over again of how good Krauss can be: a suggestive tale of desire and power, violence and gender, so much is packed beneath the surface. Some of the other stories feel overly worked out, even a bit overwritten - 'Switzerland' leaves it to the reader to interpret and that worked wonderfully for me.
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This is everything I wanted it to be and more. Short, concise, impacting, as we navigate through the different stages of life.  It will stay with me for a long time to come.
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This is the first book by Nicole Krauss I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. This collection of short stories have mostly been printed elsewhere, so fans of her writing may have read them before. The stories, Jewish influenced, explore relationships – the coming together and drifting apart. They’re quirky but intelligent, the writing poetic and lyrical. A lovely read.
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This was a lovely collection of short stories and it was wonderful to revisit Nicole Krauss' writing again, having read The History of Love over 10 years ago. These stories were easy to melt into and there is something satisfactory and comforting about that. I like the stages of life the stories took you through and the perceptions of what it is to be a man and woman in these scenarios. Ultimately, it leads you to look at your situations and think of the way you are sometimes bound by your gender construct. 
My favourite thing about this collection was the contrast between life and death, there's a lot of growing old in this book but also the celebration of new life as well as what is in between. It gave me a strange feeling of being on the cusp of life at this point in my life and I couldn't wash that away. 
Whilst I was impressed with the stories, I felt at times some of the stories felt to distant and overwritten and it was hard to understand what we were meant to get from the story. They also started to feel quite samey. Overall a lovely collection of stories, Switzerland, I Am Asleep but My Heart is Awake and In the Garden were my favourite, with In the Garden being the best, I thought it was quirky and different from the rest of the other stories. 
The collection seems to consist of short stories that have been in other publications so if you are familiar with Krauss' work you may already have read some of these.
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Nicole Krause is one of our great living writers and these stories don’tt dissapoint. Her sentences sing and dance but are also muscular. The subject matter is often unexpected but never tricksy. I would press this book into anyone’s hands- read, learn and love.
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I loved reading To Be A Man by Nicole Krauss. Deftly written short stories about people and partners and families and friends at different stages in their lives.
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