I had no idea that Nicole Krauss was the wife of Everything Is Illuminated author, Jonathan Safran Foer, before purchasing this book. It proved that I know next to nothing about anything–especially literature and the community therein. Regardless, I had read good things about her books, and decided to start with her first and work my way to her second, more popular, novel afterwards. The premise of this one–a man found wandering in the desert with no memory of his former life–is certainly not a new, or particularly original, one. Amnesia is the stuff of bad soap operas and cheesy Harrison Ford movies. I was curious how she would class up a dusty gimmick. It turns out she just got deep with it. And, honestly, it was less about the story, which was good in and of itself, but the tone and flow with which she writes is the real winner here. Writing about complex emotional states in relatively simple language can be a challenge. Too many times, authors go for the SAT words and the surreal, meandering post-modern explorations that make my head hurt. Krauss manages to present compelling characters, while driving the story forward and not letting what is a basic cerebral and emotional topic bog it down with wackiness. The basic gist of the story is that our main character loses all memory of his life after age twelve because of a brain tumor (or, more accurately, the operation to remove that tumor). The problem is, he had a life, with a wife and everything, to go back to with no memory of any of it. The book goes through his struggle to empathize with his wife’s loss, and reconnect with his former life. The problem is that without the memory of that life, he really has no attachment or desire to live it. Things deteriorate from there, and eventually lead to some science fiction type stuff in the Nevada desert that’s more metaphorical than anything else. The overriding themes are experience and loneliness–with a dash of anger thrown in. In any case, the novel was very well written, and I enjoyed it well enough to be very much looking forward to reading her next one.