Echoland by Per petterson

Echoland by Per Petterson

Norwegian Fiction

Original title – Ekkoland

Translator – Don Bartlett

I was in the library the other day looking for some new books to read that may be on the Man booker international longlist when it comes out next month. Per Petterson won the old IFFP prize in 2006. This is his debut novel which has been translated into english for the first time it is nice to see that  it has been but a shame that it has taken over ten years since the success of Our stealing horse and twenty years since this book itself came out. But that said time hasn’t effect this book no it has a timeless nature to it .

They sailed across the sea to Denmark. Along the Fjord the bonfires lit up the summer evening and Avrid stood by the railing gazing twoards land, pretending they were stars. The lights rose and fell and they shone on the water and he heard laughter and singing from the shore, but the ship was quiet

maybe the last line of the opening paragraph should be a hint of what is in fromt of him

Echoland is the story of Avrid , he is twelve and like many lads of his age is just become an adult. he is on his yearly family holiday to Denmark to the small island that his grandmother lives on . But he has reached an age where this small island is maybe to small . He captures a couple in the dunes in the middle of the act . He also sees the tension between his mother and Grandmother that he has never seen before , the family coping with the loss of a child  and meanwhile we see a young man struggling to cope with his growing up that awkward sense you have as a chap at that age. Then there is the outfall of previous visits and then we also in the ending what his raging Hormones drive him too.

He wasn’t alone. Some distance away a man was jumping up and down in the water. the man was laughing out loud, and the Avrid saw the man wasn’t  on his own either. A knee was stuck up on either side of his chest above the water and when the man turned Avrid saw her face against his neck. Her long dark hair hung straight down, heavy and wet . She was quite still, clinging to the man and Avrid walked off through the water in the opposite direction, back to the rushes .

Avrid sees a couple up to more than he expected in the beach as he wandered .

I loved this the book Avrid has been in another Petterson book I read and I also know is in another i have yet to read  so he is a character that he revisit through his life. This is like the year after stand by me , I remember the lines in Stand by me about being a boy before you see girls well this is the year after that when hormones get you at the worst times . This is a classic growing up story but like many young men we miss sometimes the world around us the deep scars in his parents relationship that he doesn’t really see. I remember my own youth when my own parents split i was ten but for years I never really saw the fall out in their own lives till I had grown up in retrospective. I remember the years I was like Avrid a holiday in Spain about the same age when I had just discovered girls and my hormones where raging so could connect with some of the situations Avirid finds himself .I wouldn’t been shocked to see this on the Man booker .

Have you a favourite Per Petterson ?

Aliss at the fire by Jon Fosse

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Aliss at the fire by Jon Fosse

Norwegian fiction

Original title – det er als

Translator – Damion Searls

Source – personnel copy

One thing I have started to do since I moved house is buy a few very cheap books from amazon of writers I have had on my to read list forever. Jon Fosse is a point in case I have had him down for a few years as a writer to read since he started to feature near the top of the nobel hopefuls every year. I was a bit put of by the fact he is compared to beckett but when I saw this a recent book from Dalkey archive for under a pound plus postage I couldn’t resist it. I’m , pleased I did as this is my book of the year so far. I can see why Fosse has won every major prize at home and around the world barring the big one the Nobel.

I’ve seen much better boats, she says

I like this boat, Asle says

But couldn’t you get yourself a bigger boat a safer boat, Signe says

I don’t want a new boat , Asle says.

Why do you like this boat so much,Signe says

I knew the man who built it, and he built it for me,Asle says

He built boats his whole life, the man who built it and he built one for me, he says

Yes , Signe says

The boat had been a worry for his wife Signe before the day he drowned in the Fjord as she watched in the Black water.

 

Aliss at fire is one of those single paragraph work of monolgue, at time I was reminded of Thomas  Bernhard for this long winded style. The book is told as a widowed wife looks back on the her life with her dead husband Asle , but also the family that has been on that spot next to the fjord where she sits on a bench looking out at the black water like she did the night her husband’s boat ran into trouble. She imagines the family over time in other boats other deaths on the fjord her connection to the boat times she asked him if he wanted a new boat for the lake and he said no he was happy with his old boat.This is an inner monologue of time drifting her life now than and before as ghosts seem to haunt here in the dark coming out to touch her almost, at points she even touches her own body to feel close to the past.A tale of a woman trying to cope with death.

But forward, it’s moving, and the boat moves out across fjord, out father and father, in the wind, in the rain and even through the darkness is dense and thick around him in a weird way it’s not dark he thinks, because the fjord is shining black then it it’s not really that cold, he is wearing his thick sweater keeping him warm from rowing,he thinks and he looks back over his shoulder and there up ahead, far away there, there near the middle of the Fjord, what is that over there ?

Asle on the water in the boat he had built for him. The use of black is interesting.

This is one of those short novellas ,  that last with you as a reader, I thought when i put it down it was like a lost Peirene in a way.The story is dark as dark as the black water , hair and nights that are a recurring theme in the book boats also crop up a lot maybe as a vessel from this life to the next maybe the Fjord is this families river of sticks. As I said I was reminded of Bernhard but also maybe the constant mention of black hair , black water remind me of Dylan Thomas under Milkwood especially took me back to seeing that as a one piece monologue by Richard Burton Nephew .This is death playing chess or the dark sections of a film by Roy Anderson the real dark side of Nordic life Fjord and boats are dangerous. Fosse may well win the Nobel in the next few years.

Have you read Fosse ?

Some rain must fall by karl Ove Knausgaard

Some rain must fall by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Norweigian fiction

Original title – Min Kamp Femte Bok

Translator – Don Bartlett

Source – Library book

Well I said in last post I am still reading but with three weeks til we move we are busy buying stuff and packing for the new house move. I really want to read this although I hadn’t reviewed part four of Knausgaard I have decide to just review part five now as I really enjoyed this last but one part of Karl Ove life. As was noted in the LBF talk I saw Karl Ove is maybe in part to thank for the increase in Translated sales that was mentioned in the Man booker post on sale yesterday .

“That book you were reading, could I have a look at it? ” I said to Kjetil.

“Of course”, he said and passed it tome. I skimmed through it.

“Where’s he from?”

“Argentina , I think, but he lived in Paris for a very long time.”

“is it magic realism?” I said

“Yes you might call it that ”

“I really like Marquez.” I said “Have you read him ?”

Kjetil smiled

“Yes but he’s not quite my style. Its a bit too high flown for me.””Mhm” I said, handing the book back and writing Julio Cortazar in my notebook

I love discovering writers and the connections with other writers around the world .

So we meet karl Ove as he is really starting on his journey as a writer , as he becomes a student at a writing course in Bergen where one of his tutors is Jon Fosse, a writer i have to try but one that is often mentioned in the nobel betting the last few years. What we see here is Karl Ove struggling to find himself as a writer as he starts to tackle those writers that matter James Joyce is one he has trouble with but also Claud Simon a writer I reviewed last year I can understand why he struggles to get these writers as they are so far from what Karl Ove is as a writer but I am sure this is part of what made him the writer we know. What we also see is how voliatile his personnel life is but also the first inkling of him as a a writer and also a close friendship with Fellow Norwegian writer Tore renberg whose See you tomorrow I hope to be reviewing soon as they bounce writing ideas of one another and share a taste in music .

“My manuscript has been accepted. It’s coming out this autumn! I’m going to make my debut!”

“Is that rue? But fantastic, Tore” I said

All the energy I had drained away. I walked beside him, black to the core inside. It was so unjust. It was so bloody unjust. Why should de, four years younger than me, have the talent and not me? I had reconciled myself to the fact that Epsen had talent his debut was no surprise, it made sense. But Tore? and so young?

Shit

Tore  was beaming like a sun

His friend and sounding board Tore is first to the post with a book out but in the long run well time will tell !

Tony in his much deeper review of this book says we all look for more in Karl Ove than maybe other writers as we are all a similar age to him,  well Tony and I  are to Karl Ove  he is four years older than me and this was one of the first times  in the books  I felt a gap in my taste and that of Karl Ove.  I have never fully got XTC as a band and a few of the other bands he liked I did like in the day in particular the sugar cubes but most of all I connect when he mention Smashing Pumpkins a band I like but never lovered but had seen by chance of being a Catherine wheel fan back in the day on the first uk tour. I  like Karl Ove  have  struggled with writers Like Simon and Joyce , I like Karl Ove read them to discover the world of writers although I’m not told by Jon Fosse to do so lol. I was really touched by his dedication when he said he had read the Danish edition of Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann against the Norwegian as it had been abridged in the Norwegian edition a point which as a fan of translated fiction and not over editing or abridging books in translation. This is the struggle of a young writer in what one may call the Bildungsroman book of Min Kamp.

 

The Black signs by Lars Mørch Finborud


 

 

 

The black signs by  Lars Mørch Finborud

Norwegian fiction

Original title – De svarte skiltene

Translator – Becky l Crook

Source personnel copy

Who’ll build a box for Black Paul?
Ah’m enquirin on behalf of his soul
Ah’d be beholdin to ya all
For a lil information, just a little indication
Just who’ll dig the hole?
When ya done ransackin’ his room
grabbin any damn thing that shines,
throw the scraps down on the street
Like all his books and his notes.
All his books and his notes and
All the junk that he wrote
the whole fucken lot right up in smoke
Ain’t there nuthin sacred anymore
Won’t someone will build a box for Black Paul?

rather large quote but I imagined this woman a bit like the character in this Nick Cave song 

Lars Mørch Finborud is a Norwegian writer born in Oslo , he also runs a record label and writes articles  for various magazines in Norway .This is his first novel , he has previously published books about the history of art about Bauhaus , Christopher Nielsen and performance art .

                          Jan Holmboe (1725 – 1762 )

It was here that Jan Holmboe was run over by a horse drawn carriage with a tipsy coach man on January 7 , 1767.He died four days later at the hospital in Christiania from injuries suffered

One of the black signs the lawyer finds maybe the first death to drink driving ?

Now it is interesting that Lars has written about art for that is one of the main parts of this book , it follows a lawyer as he enters a house of a dead client to catalogue all the items within the house for an auction .The book is in two parts really the first is a collection of letter he finds between the grandson of the houses owner and his friend .The discuss a lot of what is found in the house things like the black signs , these are memorial plaques to events and people , but in lots of ways minor people and events with no real sense behind them .Then there is the second thread in the book the objects this woman  , the grandmother collected and catalogue over a number of years .She kept things from people she met whether a napkin, a glass , letters , signed books .We see her interaction with some of the most famous figures from 20th century culture with each is a label of when where and who she got them from and what happen briefly  and the condition of each item as thou they were in a sale or mounted in a musuem .

HARALD SZEEMANN’S DIRTY NAPKIN(1971)

The napkin used by Harald Szeemann in the restaurant “La Vache ” in Kassel .Used to remove sour cream from his beard just before he scolded Alina Szapoczinhkow for asking if he could provide funding for the production of a large abdominal sculpture for Docenmta V. Szeemann had shout his response “You have to get resources and realize the project yourself and then and only then , will we decide whether it should appear in Documenta or not !” Alina stood up and left in protest , but grandma was able to grab the napkin before following he out of the door

Paper napkin and sour cream

G-(mold on the napkin)

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Harald Szeemann curated the fifth docuenta in Kassel the four yearly modern art show there , that I went to see a number of years ago there .

 

An interesting made book that builds a picture of a very eccentric woman whom we never really know fully just through these objects and signs .Also through her grandsons unanswered letters to his friend .A woman that touched but never found fame , that knew people but maybe was never fully known by all .A truly wonderful examination of what make people , the stuff we are , why do we keep certain things and if we went to this extreme where we kept everything that had been touch or given by the famous and talented .what are we when we die , will she end up with her sign or will her memories just be in the objects the lawyer is shifting through in this book ? A book that as one reviewer in Norway says gives you no answers maybe just makes you question who this woman and her grandson was and even more who is the mysterious friend that he has been written to but never seemed to have replied to all these letter ?

Do you like books that maybe make you paint the picture or fill the dots in for the story ?

The blue room by Hanne Ørstavik

blue room

The Blue room by Hanne Ørstavik

Norweigan Fiction

Original title – 

Translator – Deborah Dawkin

Source – Review copy 

oh i miss the kiss of treachery the aching kiss
before i feed the stench of a love for a younger
meat and the sound that it makes when it cuts
in deep the holding up on bended knees the
addiction of duplicities as bit by bit it starts
the need to just let go my party piece

A excerpt of Disintegration from The cure

Now when ever I get a new book from Peirene press ,it is going to be quality and a touch different from the usual books  ,now this time  Meike has chosen a Norwegian novel ,one That isn’t”Karl ove” no this  book is from Hanne Ørstavik one of the most respect female writers in Norway .She was born and grew up in the north of Norway ,moving to Oslo age 16 ,here big breakthrough came in the 90’s when here Novel Love won plaudits and was voted the sixth best Norwegian novel of all time  .This book is her first book to be translated into English .

I cannot get out .Something must have happened to the lock .I’ll have to wait until mum comes home from work to help ,me .Everything was totally normal when I went to bed last night .It was late I dropped straight off to sleep .

The opening lines as Johanne finds the bedroom door locked .

The blue room is the story of a mother and daughter .Johanne the daughter is in her mid twenties ,she has fallen head over heals for a man Ivar .Now Johannes mother is very protective of her daughter when Ivar appears on the scene telling her to wait not give herself to this man .Then there is a chance Johanne to go the US with Ivar .This is the point where the books open one morning just before she is due to leave Johanne wakes and tries to get out of her room to find her door locked too .Now this sets up the story as we drift from her in the room ,to the past as she meets Ivar and follows what her  mother did trying to work out what had happened to make her mother take this drastic step .Now we also see a sexual awakening in Johanne with Ivar ,as she discovers her self as an erotic women and fantasies about love and lovemaking .

Some guy who works in the university canteen ,I said .His name is Ivar ,but I don’t really know him .We’ve only talked briefly before today ,although he has worked there since the beginning of term .

She spotted Ivar at university she told her mother .

Now this is my last but one choice for women in translation month and a great choice ,because as a publisher Peirene published a good number of female writers most of which are first time translations  for the writers in English ,Now this book is timely in a way we had a number of case of people being locked in rooms being found the last few years and of course room ,but the actual being locked up is more a staging for the story of a young woman’s sexual awaking and what that causes also what it arouses in the Johanne and her mother .Mother and daughter relationships is something I’ve not read much over the years so reading this was a new experience for me  one I should maybe try more .but is the story  right ? Are we getting the full picture ? now we just hear Johannes views and thoughts of her life  up to this point but is she telling us the truth as her mind is drifting her there and everywhere .Then there is the mother daughter relationship that is unusual ,why is her mother the way she is with her  ?  a change from Karl Ove and his growing up to have a brief glimpse of  a woman growing up in Norway Another gem from Peirene one I will be rereading at some point maybe after I have read Meike’s own book about a mother daughter relationship Clara’s daughter that is coming out soon .Have you read this book ?

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