Some Of Kind Company by Nan Östman

Some Kind of Company by Nan Östman

Swedish Fiction

Original Title –  Ett slags sällskap

Translator – Julia Rivers

Source – Review copy

I am always happy when I get approached by a new Publisher. Aspal Prime is a new small publisher that has brought out the later life novel of Swedish writer Nan Östman a writer best known for writing children’s fiction. In her earlier fiction, the was a recurrent theme of English Culture and Literature.  also girls and women Apart from some detective fiction she wrote with her husband. Her children’s books were the most borrowed books from Swedish libraries in the ’80s. She published this book when she was well in her seventies an observance of someone of similar age to her. This was the first time she had ventured into Adult fiction she published another adult after that she passed away in her nineties in 2015.

I must make one thing clear straight away, even if it sounds foolish. I believe people can advertise for almost anything in Personal ads and others will reply. So, as the English say – No sex please. I think it sounds a bit less clumsy and a little more nonchalant in English, Though stillsilly. But it’s best to say it straight out. There are men who are still virile well into old age( according to what I have read and heard) and  I believe specialist erotica for old people is now available in books and films. Well I am quite prudish and have nothing to offer a hungry old man in that respect.

In her first reply to Bo she makes it clear what she is after a platonic thing.

The book follows a woman in her seventies that is maybe a classic example of an empty nester her kids have gone and Marieanne’s marriage to Hakan has reached that point where they are two ships in the night a lot of the love has gone and there is a silence in their life. She is a translator and is worried that at some point her work may dry up and then where would she be. So she decides to take out an advert for a penpal a male friend to write with she gets a reply from a widower Bo and the two start talking he is an archivist and lost his wife as the two chat Anne is cagey at first about Hakan and their situation but as they talk we see how there life is and what it is like growing old. This is a book about the later part of life and what happens when those nearest become distant or as in Bo’s case aren’t there. It is a tale of being stuck in later life on the inside of loneliness and loveless marriage. she has it all but inside the marriage, it is a very different story. Hakan is a difficult man a quiet man that has lost his wife.

Dear Archivist

You seem to be more interested in Hakan than in me! And it feel as though you are taking his part, That is understandable, It is hardly  a recomendation of me that I have driven my husband to silence, That is what you think, isn’t it, even if tou don’t say it out loud.

The fact is that I don’t discuss Hakan with unkown people and barely with those I do know. We shall see later if it is possible for you to qualify as being someone who can be confided in, first you have to actualy make some effort.

Later he asks aboth her and Hakan but she is cagey at first about their marriage and what had happened to it.

This is one of the reasons I love smaller publishers and their ability to maybe take chances on books that the larger publishers wouldn’t. Now Nan Östman is a very well-known writer in her time and this was one of those rare gems of a writer take a chance and producing a great book in later life. One imagines maybe a lot of Anne’s world is that of the writer herself the comfortable but the life the Anne and Hakan have is far from that inside. What we have is a view of later life Marriage a book about when two older lonely souls connecting her and Bo meet and their shared loneliness is an insight. I enjoyed this book it is very different from all the other Nordic books I have read. As the translator says in the intro Nan uses her own life and her view of Swedish society. At its heart is Loneliness and how we deal with it they are both examples of people that in later life can be lonely the widower that lost his wife early and the empty nester with the Husband that has drifted away from her.

Winstons Score – -A , a hidden gem rediscovered and a perfect first read for Woman in translation month.

Red Milk by Sjón

Red Milk by Sjón

Icelandic fiction 

Original title – Korngult hár, grá augu

Translator – Victoria Cribb

Source – Personal copy

Well I know head up to Iceland and to an old friend of the blog a writer who I have reviewed three times before here but it has been five years since I reviewed a book by Sjón. I have Codex 1962 on my tbr that I was kindly sent by a twitter friend but this jumped out at me and I alway love a novella a book that can be read in the evening which his other books have tend to be. He has a way of drawing the reader into the world he is writing in the after word to this book he said he had touched on Nazisim in two previous books so decided to look at what made some one get drawn into the far right world.

The other policeman is holding a notebook. In it , he writes in pencil ” Blond hair, grey eyes“,below which he produces a deft sketch of the body and the railway compartment.

The policeman who had finished going through the dead man’s pockets turns to his colleague and shakes his head. They both look out of the carraige window. A small crowd has gathered on the platform to watch what what is happening inside the compartment. Neither officer noticed the three men in black shirts hurrying away from the train and disappearing into the station building

The end of the opening chapter and gunnars men in black shirts where there.

The drawing into the far right world that sjon based the book on follows the life of Gunnar Kampen the book opens in 1962 at cheltenham station as he is found dead on a train, but who are the men on the platform of the staion wearing the black shirts. This  part of the book  is were the Icelandic title of the book is from as he is described as Gunnar is described as  Blond hair, grey eyes. That is how it opens then we are drawn back to his youth and find out how he ended up on the path he did and dead in that train and this starts at the second world war in iceland listening to all that was going on from his fathers radio. But when events in Norway change he ends up meeting his aunt he hair had been shaved of and his uncle is in prison this is how he gets drawn into the far right world. This is where Sjon uses a number of real life well known far right figures in the post war era and there attempts to set up a world wide Nazi network. He use Gunnar trip down this poath showing how this young boy get drawn in bit by bit then when he discovers Savitir Devi and writes to him he gets further into the far right world.til he is on a train in the Uk to meet some men in Black shirts and deeper into the world wide net of Nazis.

Icelander take great interest in the affairs of their brother nation, There are a larger number of Norweigans living here,as well of people of Norwegian descent like us, Every year, books are published about recent events, there are talks aon the radio and plays staged. Ofically, they all toe the same lie. Recently, I was meeting of a current affairs club I belong to, where the topic of the day was Norway. A fter the meeting had finished, a man (O.P), who had known you kn Oslo came over to talk to me. He told me where you were, why you were there and how many years you had left.

As his family come back from Norway he gets the first onnection to the far rigtht world via his Uncle and what he did in Norway!

 

This is part Bildungsroman and part thriller and also part cautionary tale. Sjón weaves a web around Gunnar so he ends up like a fly trapped in the web of Nazism as it gabs him bit by bit how easy it can be for a normal boy like Gunnar  can get caught up in this world. It is insoired by one of the real life leaders of the Red milk an Icelandic right wing group. The book is about how people fall down the rabbit holes it is what Sjon wanted to do and that is find how this happens we don’t get a full explination to what it is makes people do this but an insight into one mans world. It is most of all a cautionary tale of gunnars life. He use a number of different styles of writing epistolary, historic novel, thriller and mystery. If you have read his earlier books this will appeal to you ! Have you a favourite read from Sjón ?

Winstons score – B An interesting novella of how the far right can draw people in. a cautionary tale.

Summer Night , and Then comes the Night by Jon Kalman Stefansson

Summer Night, and Then Comes the Night by Jon Kalman Stefansson

Icelandic fiction

Original title – Sumarljós og svo kemur nóttin

Translator – Philip Roughton

Source – review copy

I am now back on to the last few titles to squeeze in before the booker international longlist comes out at the end of the month. Here we go back to a writer that I have featured on the blog three times before he was a winner of our shadow prize a while ago. He taught at the high school level for a time and also wrote for a newspaper. He spent time in the 80s living in western Iceland doing odd jobs. This is  where the book is set, though the book is set in the 90s there. The book come to us in English now, but it was published a number of years ago in Iceland. Before the Heaven and Hell trilogy of books that came out here. This is a collection of interconnecting stories around the village of 400 souls as the days are full of light before that dark or winter arrives.

Back in the day, the post office was one of the hubs of the village, through which letters and parcels streamed, where there were two telephone booths for those who needed to make calls outside the country, and at which queues would often form on tuesdays- the deadlune for ordering alchol from the south that was supposed to be drunk over the weekend. But now those phone booths have been taken away; are goneare the days when agusta could listen in. Now the village even has its own off-licence open from 1pm to 2 30 pm. Tuesdays and Thursdays; thus does everything change.

The village is full of life but in ways dying off with things disappearing over time.

When the stories open with the line that the houses are younger than the ninety-year-olds that live there but no one of any note has really come from there and there is no church or graveyard there we get the sense this is a strange place and here we see the inner lives of some of those that live in the village. The action opens up with a girl in a black velvet dress and an astronomer a girl that got a job as the director at the knitting factory a few years ago. She is the dream of many a man in the village. Then we see a summer affair and a wife’s revenge on the couple leaves Kjartan on the end of revenge from his wife. Characters like the nosey postman who has read everyone’s mail and knows what is going on in the village. A lawyer who has some strange beliefs about how the world is !! A man loses his virginity, a doctor keels over when a dog barks.

Destiny takes strange paths – that is, of er acept that it exosts that our exostence isn’t dependent on the terrible power of coincidence. Hannes breaks beneath the wieght of the darknessthe shadows catch him, he hangs himself, leaves a letter for his son and another for Gudmundor and Solrun, in which he asks his friends to see to it that jionas had be given a full-time postition as a police office: “I belive this to bethe only way to make him a man. It will be difficult schooling, but that’s life, he has the bones to bear it: underneatrh his meekness is an unexpected and mysteryous strength” Hannes was probably alone in his view, which, at best, seemed merely preposterious, wishful thinking.

Detstiny has run all over the village over time.

This a glimpse of a strange world cut off from the rest of Iceland the ordinary lives of the locals. Now one review I read of the book mentioned a comparison to Undermilk wood I can see that there is the same sense of every day and the bizarre of every day that was Llareggub Dylan Thomas distant Welsh village. But for me, there is a little more of Iceland lit in there. One of the Laxness work I reviewed a while ago under the Glacier which is another work set in a remote Icelandic village like the village in this story had a church but hasn’t anymore but the vicar has never been to our village wherein Laxness work the vicar went rogue. The locals now a sense of the otherworldly just a distance away from the rest of the world. I was also reminded of another book from Iceland And the wind sees them all especially the story of Elisabeth and her velvet dress which folks dreamed of her was similar in feel to Kata in her polka dot dress cycling through the village. This is a great collection of interlinking stories of a small insular community that has drifted away from the world. the stories re glimpse into ordinary folks at those times when the world is a bit mad and it is all Brilliantly brought alive from Stefansson. Have you a favorite book from Iceland?

Winstons score – A-

 

Wretchedness by Andrzej Tichý

Wretchedness by Andrzej Tichý

Swedish fiction

Original title – Eländet

Translator – Nichola Smalley

Source – sent from the translator

I swapped a couple of books from and other stories for a copy of the TLS  I had that included a review of this book in I have met Nochola the translator of this book via her work at And other stories a couple of times, so it is a shame it has taken me a while to get to a review of books she has translated. looking up about the writer I came across this quote which seemed to sum him up as a writer. “Andrzej Tichý is a writer who, time and time again, with a language that sings, says something important about the Swedish contemporary. Read him”. He has lived in Sweden since 1981 born in Prague to a Polish mother and Czech father there is a sense of the great Mittel European writers in his work. 

The way the wax plant flowers moved, those small movements, that trembling, that gentle vibrating, like an echo of the moving trings, combined with the low-frequency tone, the rumble – all that lingered in my consciousness as I saw the newly built tower block and the figures on its roof, with the railway tracks and rail yard in the background, all while I tried to say something to the guitarist and the composer about scelsi and my microtonal worl. We walked toward the central station to take the the train to Copenhagen, to Vor Frue Kirke and the moosmann concert.

Where he meets the Junkie and his past falls back into his world and those year flood back

This book is told in a feverish manner at times what happened when a cellist comes face to face with a spun out Junkie for the second book in a row we have a sort of Proustian moment where this one single event leads the Ccellist into a journey through his past and the sense that he broke free of it a part of growing up in the Housing projects with a group of what in the day would be slackers this is an ode to the early nineties and the urban world he grew up in of skaters, junkies, rappers. Where there are Parties and clubs but he remembers that it was also a road to nowhere, as the memories of his past come tumbling in on him. This is all told in slang as we see his early jobs also the tension of the multi-cultural community he lives in just bubbling below the surface. He is the present is due to give a concert with two other musicians of the work Giacinto Scelsi the Italian modernist composer. This a story of breaking out but also the sense of loss of the comrade brothers he left behind in the melting post he grew up in.

THen a car pulled up. A man got out and other things. Then a car pulled. A man got out and asked if they wanted work. Employment, he said, Earn a little money, he said, they asked what they’d be doing.. Handing out flyers, he said. For his building firm. Go aroundthe wealthy neighbourhoods and stuff a few flyers through letterboxes. They asked how much they’d get five hundred. To share. Course we will, they said. That’s a lot of money, they thought. They got in the car. He drove them to the wealthy neighbourhood. They got a stack each. Took a side each and put them in the letterboxesas he drove behind them, crept along along slowly behind them

A classic ilustration of GEnration X the McJobs cash in hand jobs struggling to get by.

A lot of reviews I have seen of this book have mentioned Bernhard it hard not to avoid that as the book is told in a similar style of breathless prose, as the past comes flooding into his mind but jumbled up like a montage of his life with no real gaps as you get caught up in the cellist’s past and his thoughts of the world he grew up in. This is like a sample of his past mixtape of memories. The clash of high and low culture is shown here from his early love of street beats of the hip hop of the day over the modern music of Scelsi (I will put my hand up again her I know nothing of him just what I have read my modern classical knowledge is little) and the hip hop he likes is different to the bands I knew at the time but it reminds me of going to clubs in UK, Holland, and Germany late nights. Then time spent in cities like Manchester, Newcastle, Nimwegen, Kassel, and Dortmund at the similar time to this so the group he described remind me of my german friends although we didn’t do drugs we like a drink and clubs. This is a song about breaking free of the past. But there will always be that reminder of the past.

Winstons score – A- ( a Bernhard fan got score well with me)

 

 

Storm Birds by Einar Kárason

Storm Birds by Einar Kárason

Icelandic fiction

Original title –  Stormfuglar,

Translator  – Quentin Bates

Source – Personal copy

It been over a year since I have reviewed an Icelandic novel which is a shame as it is one of those countries that most of the books in translation I have read over the time of the blog I have enjoyed. This book when it arrived appealed I am a fan of films that deal with the weather and the sea the likes of Perfect storm or the finest hour to name two. So when I read that this is based on actual events that happened in 1959 and the events that lead to a number of boats getting in trouble. The book is written by Einar Kárason. He has been writing since the late seventies his debut novel from 1981 was also translated into English as Devils island. He has since he has written over fifteen more novels this came out in 2018.

When the young deckhand Larus had said farewell to his parentrs and waved as the willys drove away, he went up Mavur’s gangplank.He went to the heelhouse and reported to the first mate who was there, who told him that he crew beginning to turn up and everything was almost read, sh he should go and find himself a berth in the deck crew’s quarter,  forward under the whaleback; he could then get himself a cup of coffee from the galley Larus carried his kitbag accross gthe deck, opened an iron dorr andf then another one beyond it, and made his way down a couple of steps. There were two cabins, and from both came loud voices, drunken talk and clouds of tobacco smoke, and Larus wondered whether he dar go in there

Larus arrives on the boat and sees the old sea dogs bel;ow deck.

Storm birds is told about the crew of the trawler Mávur which in which we are told the event of late February in 1959 as the fishing trawlers head from Iceland to the fishing grounds around the Grand banks just off Newfoundland. This was also the setting for the film and book The Perfect storm. The events of the voyage to fish is told by a young man Larus a young man of just 18 that is sent of by his parents although when his fellow crewmates arrive he gets embarrassed by them as they are a collection of salty seadogs and he is the new boy. The skipper has them knocking the ice of the boat as the weather starts turning to freeze the boats as the weather worsens we see the harshness of the sea that cruel sea of Monserrat as he had described it during the war years. So as they reach the fishing grounds but as it comes clear the boat and others around them are in distress they work  22 hours a day just trying to get through any downtime is spent forgetting the weather as at one point Larus talks about the books they are reading the radio Operator book chest were he finds war stories and biographies. another is reading Laxness. The story is on the edge as we find if they all make it as they try to get out of the weather back to the safety of Harbour. The events show how they dealt with the conditions as they find out what happens to the fellow fishermen on their boats just voice in the distant some too far away to help.

Larus continued to turn the pages of his book of maritime diasters when ever he had time to read, and its accounts became all the more horric because he knew they had been so close to such a tragedy.

The mess was often busy with card games in the evenings, and sometimes they played poker for matches or cigarettes.Some of the crew lounged around reading the various contents of the radio operator’s book chest – biographies, war stories; one of the engineers was reading Laxness, Iceland’s Nobel Prizer Winners, and would occasionally shake with silent laughter

Larus describes what they do in the free time on the boat.

This is almost a thriller as the tension is always there from their setting off but it is soon the men against the weather as the waves rage and the ice forms as the temperature sinks down. That is what is handled so well in the book is the conditions from the struggle keeping the ruining parts of the boat’s free so they can carry on. and struggle this is the classic of man’s battle with the elements that we have seen before from those North Atlantic convoys of “The Cruel Sea ” to the comradeship and battling spirit of the fishermen in The perfect storm as we see how a crew battle with nature itself and we find the true power of nature. This is a short book but full of colour and works in English as the translator brings the colour and conditions of the voyage to life. If you like an adventurous man against nature books then this is one for you. Have you a favorite book in that genre?

 

 

We’ll call you by Jacob Sundberg

We’ll call you by Jacob Sundberg

Swedish fiction

Original title – Vi hör av oss

Translator – Duncan J lewis

Source – review copy

I recently did a collection of books from Norway for the Publisher of this book Nordisk books here is my list I will at a later date be doing another list for them. Anyway, enough advertising myself lol. Jacob grew up in a working-class area he says on his website and he saw the towns fall down as industries shut and the folk remain stoic. So he decided to come to London is search of a tweed jacket and pipes a vision of a user that he found had gone well I have a Twitter friend that was a tweed fan but pipe smoking isn’t the thing although I had a pipe in my twenties and own a tweed jacket. Oh well, he left and returned to Sweden and he lives near Småland. It is worth looking at his website the intro about himself even translated into English via Google is very funny. Yes, this is a comic book in fact it is a book about modern life and the humor they’re within.

But the main reason for Hansson wanting to look relaxed and untterly untroubled when the man walked in , as that he to all appearances was a foreigner. He had an exotic name: Said Ansari. If there was anything Hansson wished for it was that these poor refugees would feel welcome, treated the same was as everyone else. To be unruffled in this situation was , in other words , absolutely necessary

Said could of course be a good kid in spite of his orgins, thought Hansson He was after all very careful to treat everyone equallym even foreigners, yes especially foreigners, something he often pointed out, I barely see that they’re different from us, that they’re dark and swarthy, he used to say, He didn’t think such thungs, for he saw the person inside, he was a really good man, that’s what everyone thought.

This just shows what will happen to Hansson that feeling he is maybe not as PC as he things is just under the surface here!!

As I said this is a collection of stories around modern life jobs the interviews we all have to do these days. There are nine stories in the collection I’m going to mention two that I liked. The first is the first story in the collection An exotic touch see Alfred  Hansson is interviewing people for a new job in his business when he has the next candidate Said Ansari is where it all starts to fall apart for Hansson as he gets himself into a sort of Political correctness maze in trying to be PC but wanting to discover more about this man and his exotic name he just ends up in a real twist. Hansson is one of those people that in trying to be correct just keeps putting his foot in his mouth. will Said take the job will Hansson give him the right impression of the company? The second story is another interview here for an office supply company in the story That’s just so me. We see Carina going for an interview at the company One Eniar Bark had built from scratch an office supply company that had seen of competitors in the area he trades in over the years. So when carina is interviewed Einar starts talking about himself his business holidays with the wife, like a time he had a splendid pizza in Italy. He occasionally lets carina talk at one point she says she has a passion for painting and this leads him to reveal a longing to be a poet and for him to show her a poem. Which she says is great. But when later he says he looks for honesty in his staff what is she to do about his dreadful poem be honest or not! how will he react? Elsewhere there is a cu that offends, a singer winning a pop idol contest, and a man trying to escape going to his school reunion.

A stone, A black stone

Big as a mountain

It blocked the way

Everyone was astonished

who can dislodge the stone?

A character approached

His face like flint

Followed by cinders

He. He can dislodge the stone

Everyone was astonished

The stone turned to sand

Carin wait, thought there would be more. When he looked up she said “Great”

“Not exactly oine of my best ones, I wrote it whe I was building the warehouse There was lots of hurdles, They didn;t want a warehouse here

EInar shows Carina his awful poem she initally says Greay but what will she say later on when he asks again!

This is a witty collection of reflections on modern life and how we can all get in twists. The two examples I choose both have a point where things start to go wrong. The man Hansson is just one of those people that is trying to be too PC but gets in such a twist by not saying what he should instead off that he goes around the bush and ending up sound worse than he wanted to and the second story we see what happens when an Ego is interview Einar has a huge Ego and Carina maybe can’t see this as she just sees a windbag. But when she has a chance what is she to do !! These are funny stories that even though set in Sweden still ring true to the \Engoish reader I could see characters I have met and worked within most of the characters in this book. From someone that wants the truth but really doesn’t to the person that will let one thing out of place upset them as we see when a Mug is in the wrong place. A great collection for a dark winter night a laugh or two and a book that can be read in an evening. Have you a favorite comic story?

Ankomst by Gøhril Gabrielsen

Ankomst by Gøhril Gabrielsen

Norwegian Fiction

Original title – Ankomst

Translator by Deborah Dawkin

Source – personal copy

This is the second of this year’s Peirene series books this year a series called closed universe. It is the second book by the Norweigian writer Gøhril Gabrielsen that they had published the first is one of the few books by them I haven’t reviewed I have a copy so will at some pointreview that one. This is another one for women in translation month. It is the fifth novel from the writer it won the 2017 book prize fort the best book from the North of Norway. 

The bay lies wrapped in darkness, but in the light of the waxing moon. I can make out the waves frothy white crests rushing up into the sshallows. they glide between the rocks on the shore and retreat with a pale metallic sheen. I attach the trailer to the scooter and load it with the mast for the automatic weather station, along with my measuring equipment, guy wires and data logger, the bucket for the precipitation gauge, some antifreeze, my snowshoes, a couple of spades and a can of petrol. Before pulling on the protective cover . I check yet again that my equipment is properly secure.

The remoteness is there as she arrives and start to set up for her experiments .

I picked this as I have always had a love of birds and the fact this follows a scientist in the far north of Norway who has gone to spend a seven-week period as the seabirds she wants to see are due to migrate over and be around she is seeing if climate change is affecting the birds she is her to see the Auks Guilmonts and puffins. As she has done this, she has left her young daughter with her Ex called S who she has regular contact with Skype conversations with her daughter as communication is just basic for her as it is so remote so at times she has no outside contact. There is a lover that may be joining her but the loneliness starts to creep in and the is a s=feeling of a woman on the edge trying to escape the messy break up of her relationship and the idea of this time away seems great but the positiveness of the early part of the book gives way to paranoia as she questions her life and the work draws her to the much earlier owner of the hut she is using. This is a bleak place full of sea birds and nature as it is brought to life in the prose her world collapse will her lover arrive who where is he ?

On one of these January days, as as I sit and ponder the colours in the sky., I think about preception and the sense of sight. I consider those episodes in which I see Borghild and Olaf. I find myself thinikng if them as electrons in the mysterious world of quantum mechanics. electrons jumping from one orbit to another, releasing, with each leap closer to the nucleus, energy in the form of light. Light of varying wavelengths, each ommiting a distinctive colour.

The worldshrinks ghost of the past mix with the colurs in the sky as she finds her minding wandering and drifts.

This is another Peirene gem it took me two sittings thou it is 187 pages long which is one of the longer books. This is a woman on her own going over her past but you can also feel the world around her crashing her life has a rigid routine as she observes the bird, but also a sense of a past in the place she has chosen to live to watch the birds a sort feeling of woe in this place that has seeped into her. Her wanting to make a difference with her work plowing on whilst she reflects on the personal collapsing of her life whilst the lover that is due to arrive never seems to come as time almost slows even when she arrives and sees the boat lights fade off in the distance the remote and rugged world she has left envelopes her. I was reminded of the great book Tartar steppes which saw a soldier in a remote Desert as he waits for someone to attack him. There is a shared sense of remoteness and drifting towards madness. Have you read this books ?

A House in Norway by Vigdis Hjorth

A House in Norway by Vigdis Hjorth

Norweigan fiction

Original title – Et norsk hus

Translator – Charlotte Barslund

Source – personal copy

I brought will and testaments earlier this year then remembered I had this by the Norweigan writer Vigdis Hjorth. Vigdis grew up in Oslo she studied Philosophy, literature and political science and has been writing both adult and children’s fiction. She writes about the dilemmas of living in Modern society, her character struggles to come to terms with a rapidly changing world and to find a meaningful way to integrate with others and realize their own potential. She has won many prizes and has a number of her books translated into English she said her influences are Dag Solstad, Bretold Brecht and Louis-Ferdinand Celine. This is the first book by her I have read.

A few days later a woman phined and introduced herself as the interperter for “your tennt Slawomira Tzebuchwaskai”. She spoke broken, but clear coherrent Norweigan. It was concerning her tenant’s housing situation. She said and she wanting to meet with Alama. And Alma was delighted and said yes because she wanted nothing more that to resolve the tenant’s housing situation. The interpreter would visit. Alma in a few days, and the pole would be there as well, almaunderstood, so did this mean that she was moving back in ?

After her husband has to return to Poland she is left as a single parent Alam still willing to help ?

The book follows the life of a divorced textile artist. She lives in an old villa that has an apartment that she has rented out once unsuccessfully so when she lets a Polish Family move in she sees them as steady and she starts work on a large commission doing a tapestry to celebrate a centenary of women’s suffrage in Norway. But then as the Famil have kids and things start to happen like the Husband has to return to Poland leaving the wife and the kids alone in the apartment but they start knawing at Alma like the Mouse that her Polish neighbor says she has but won’t take the traps out like this and other little things start making Alma regret her decision. this leads to a series of letters rent rise changes in the size and description of the apartment it size. This carries on will she get her house back will she finish her commission?

Alma wrote the long-planned letter to her tenant in order to make same demands of her as she would have done of a Norwegian by informing her of the Norwegian attitude to electricty consumption. To be more conscious of her usage and turn down the radiators at night, sort her rubbish for recycling and not mixpaper and cardboard with other waste, and she also requested that she parked her car alongside Alma’s and always in the tarmac rather than on the ground between the treesfurther down where Alma wanted the grass to grow in the summer .

The crack in their relationshipo start after her husband isn’t their little things that build up over time.

 

This is done exactly what the description of her writing does in the book we have Alma she is a fair mind woman in her eyes her kids come ever so often. especially Christmas but in your heart you feel she is only renting the apartment for the money and no matter who was there she would eventually pick fault and her we see this she wants to be fair but at the back of her mind is the wanting a quiet life and the things like clearing the snow which when she contact the landlord advice line she does this a number of times not wanting to be seen as a bad landlord. This is all about manners and trying to be polite but there is a simmering undercurrent slowly growing in Alma that silent anger that is hidden just under the surface we see it building I was reminded of the few books I read by Anne Tyler a writer that also is great at capturing a woman at a certain age that simmers so well like Alma does here. Have you read Hjorth?

Restless by Kenneth Moe

Restless by Kenneth Moe

Norweigan fiction

Original title – Rastløs

Translated  by Alison McCullough

Source – review copy

Well,

I have reached it the 100oth review and I had a few books to choose from but I chose this as it best signifies what the blog has tried to do the last few years and that supports smaller presses through my reviews. Writers and writing that test the bounds of what is literature. So I chose Restless.grew up near Larvik, a small town outside Oslo in Norway. He currently lives in Oslo. He has studied creative writing in Bø, Bergen, and Lillehammer, Norway. Moe’s debut novel Restless won the Tarjei Vesaas debut award. This is the latest book from Nordisk books that have specialized in fresh voices and books from Scandinavia. This book is coming out this month.

We talk all the time in the dark. I give good explanations of everything, persuading you day to day. You’re not really here, and so can never really leave me, either. At nights you snuggle up to me in bed: your slim body with its small breasts against mine. I think even your body is humble. It dosen’t make much of itself. You leaf through the pages of the books- tell me I read such stranges ones. you tease me. I read Marcus Aurelius in bed I read La Rochefoucauld. He writes “weak people cannot be sincere”. I read the sentence aloud to you

ONe the opening paragraghs in the book.

As I said this is a challenging read as it has an unnamed narrator. He is trying to write a letter to women who rejected him but as the pages go on it drifts more into a personal insight into the young man’s mindset and insight into his life a lonely one. A drifter living on a student grant for a course he had left months ago. He observes the changing season the longer days of the summer as the dark night’s end he says to give him a sense of hope but that is short-lived. As he sits in his father’s armchair sinking deeper into it every day as he drifts more into a sort of modern lonely life that many people have. As he drifts off the sense he is losing it as he talks about feeling ill with this and that symptom. Just as he talks about his flat falling apart his blinds being broken and old women in the park having her last summer. Then something happens!

Today the sun is shining on my street again, but I have my back to the light and the trees outside the window. I’ve always been the type to shut myself in my room for days, weeks at a time, to work on some project or the otherthat I think will save me, withput any clear ideas as to exactly why this ine should save me when none of my previous projects have. Right now, for example: a book, a letter. I’ve chosen to prefer solitude, and would have preferred to prefer something else. All my longings are equally paradoxical. I constantly doubt whether I should want you and what I’d use you for should I get you, but I know that…

Later on and the sense of his mind drifting and his sense of lonliness.

This price winning debut is made up of short paragraphs and even a single sentence his aphorisms of the world around him. it is a book that has a restless feel a man that has been rejected wrestling with his life rejection the coming summer that changed from the dark nights and the light evening the soul of a man wrestling to write but also with discovering who he is himself like those other men on a quest Pessoa or even Leopardi he wrestles with why we are here as he tries to write this letter this is a shorter work but maybe like those great dishes you see in modern Scandinavian cooking where the portion is small but the enjoyment is in the complex nature of the taste mix the best of what i at hand to the chief at the time and this is a writer doing the same in a way. A modernist gem a man hunting for the what of modern life after a rejection one of those milestones on a young man’s journey. Another unusual gem from Nordisk books I have their last book to review but it is worth looking at all eight of there titles.

The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting

The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting

Norwegian fiction

Original title –  Søsterklokkene

Translator – Deborah Dawkin

Source – Personal copy

I reviewed his debut novel sixteen trees of the Somme, a couple of years ago. Lars Mytting first caught the English readers with his Non-fiction book about wood Norweigan wood chopping, stacking, and drying. Then his debut np0vel that tracked history via a tree and a coffin and a family history was touching so when I read it. So when this dropped in on winstonsdad’s tower. This is the first of three books and it is based around a wooden Stave church on the side of a lake that is meant to be moved to German to make way for the New.

The sister rarely left the Hekne farmstead, even though they got about better than folk might think. They walked in a waltz- like rhythm, as if carrying a brimful water pail between them. The slopes below the farm were the only think that defeated them. Hekne was situated on a very steep incline, and in the winter the slippery paths were treacherous. But since it was a sunny slope, the spring thaw came early in the year, sometimes by March, ad then the twins would come out with the springtime sun .

Henke was amoung the earliest settlements in the valley and the family had chosen one of the bestg spots for a faermstead. They owned not one , but two seters- summer farms further up the on the mountainside, each boasting a fine milking shed and dairy and a herd of well-fed cows that grazed on the deep green grass all summer.

The Hekne have long been there and have one of the best farms that the conjoined twins live in.

we first find out about the sister bell that is in the church. The church was made in the 1200’s and the bells where cast in silver after the story of two conjoined sisters Gunhild and Halfrid Hekne. The sisters learned to weave four-handed. whose story mixes myth and history and the story of the casting of the bells that are still two hundred years later in the church. But the myths have grown as the bells have a truly unique sound. So When the village of Butangen is given a new young priest Kai Schweigaard is trying to bring the parish into the modern world as the village is caught up in myths and folklore of the local area like that of the sisters and their bell. As part of that modernizing of the parish s the removal of the stave church, he has found that some Germans want it they send a young german architect to oversee this job now add to the mix that descendant of the sisters Astrid she is a headstrong twenty-year-old. She isn’t the usual village girl that wants to settle down she is caught between her modern mind and her family history add to that she falls for the German Gerhard and struggles to battle the new priest and his changes as she juggles her history and the wanting to find out more about Gehard why this man is a ray of light to her with his city ways. Then the bells take over!!!

Gerhard Schonauer stared after the girl for a long time, Her features made him want to draw her, there was a unique quality about her. She was quick and less reserved than the other villagers he had met that morning. The description in meyer’s seemed to sum them up precisely. “The Norwegians are a proud and strong race of Germanic descnet, They are more stoic and slower than the Swedes, but not a phlegmatic as Danes. They can seem very closed and sceptical, but once one earned their trust they are loyal and open-hearted, and they are outstanding sefarer, with the world’s best martitime pilots.

The first meeting of Astrid and Gerhard left a huge impression on him as he watched her walk off after first meeting.

This is a wonderful work there is a real feel of a village caught out of time in the way the voices of Astrid and the other locals have been translated with what feels like a country twang to there voices. The book is about change that old clash of an old and new world together and the actual history of a place the village is fictional but the small mountain village he describes and the way of life lived in the village is described as very well crafted in a Norwegian review of the work I looked up to see how much research he had done on the churches places and time. This is a novel that captures you from the first line to the last and brings the reader a real sense of place it is a well craft historical novel that has a love story, family history and folklore.

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