Kraus, Caroline (M. H.)
KRAUS, Caroline (M. H.)
ADDRESSES: Home—Northern CA. Agent—Heather Flaherty Maguire, Publicity Manager, Broadway Books, The Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, 1745 Broadway, Rm. 2226, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Author. Worked as bookseller, event photographer, documentary film researcher, and arts and sciences editor for Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago, IL.
Borderline: A Memoir, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: "My aim, in the beginning, was to retrace my steps and try to figure out how and why things had gone so wrong in my mind," explained Caroline Kraus on her Web site, referring to her goal in writing Borderline: A Memoir. "I had questions to answer. Most writers, if they are lucky, are hounded all day by some question that nags and preoccupies them, a question or longing that might be illuminated, resolved, or otherwise tackled by constructing a narrative—fiction or otherwise—around its source."
The "question" Kraus addresses in her memoir Borderline is her dysfunctional relationship with Jane, a woman she meets after moving from the Midwest to San Francisco. Kraus's mother has just died from cancer, and the author, who grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, is looking to find her bearings and get a fresh start. When she meets up with Jane and eventually moves in with her, Kraus becomes trapped in a whirlpool of manipulation and increasing domination. Jane is promiscuous, a thief, and at times violent. She plays people and situations off each other like she is playing a game of chess. Furthermore, Jane is essentially living off of Kraus's inheritance and credit cards. Even when friends warn Kraus that Jane is becoming too demanding and protective and that the relationship is unhealthy, Kraus remains devoted to her friend, who had provided her with affection when she needed it most—after her mother's death. Only after Kraus listens to a story about borderline personality disorder on National Public Radio (NPR) does she recognize that Jane is deeply disturbed and trapping Kraus in her unbalanced world.
In an interview on her Web site, Kraus commented, "It was important to me that my individual experiences had the potential to give rise to a larger, more universal story, one that might resonate with enough people to make the project worthwhile." Kraus went on to note that the story "is about the power of human attachment and loss, not just my own; about the grounded mind's capacity to suddenly and sharply take flight, and about the driving instinct that equalizes all of us, which is survival."
Borderline was generously praised by critics. "In this first book, Kraus, trained in documentary filmmaking, shows herself to be a perceptive and fluent storyteller, able to relate the panicky flavor of this slippery, disturbing relationship," wrote Penny Wolfson in the Washington Post Book World. Jamie Watson, writing in School Library Journal, was initially distracted by Kraus's use of multiple narratives that move back and forth in time but concluded that "the pieces unfold and rejoin to give readers a more thorough understanding of how an obviously intelligent woman could allow herself to be so taken advantage of." Booklist contributor Elsa Gaztambide called Kraus's debut effort a "well-written memoir by a deeply intuitive writer." Another reviewer writing in Kirkus Reviews deemed the book "as gripping, at times, as a good thriller."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kraus, Caroline, Borderline: A Memoir, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Booklist, January 1, 2004, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Borderline: A Memoir, p. 791.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of Borderline, p. 1438.
Library Journal, February 1, 2004, Tania Barnes, review of Borderline, p. 111.
Publishers Weekly, December 8, 2003, review of Borderline, p. 52.
School Library Journal, Jamie Watson, July, 2004, review of Borderline, p. 133.
Washington Post Book World, July 25, 2004, Penny Wolfson, review of Borderline, p. T13.
Notes from Here: Caroline M. H. Kraus Home Page,http://www.carolinekraus.com (September 28, 2004).*