Translated from the Norwegian by Kenneth Steven
Opening: Thirteen hours in Berlin and I was already a wreck.
Came across this author/translator combination in the menacing short story about a barber in The Norwegian Feeling for Real
Page 19: ‘Like a Sphinx,’ I replied. ‘Like a blue sphinx that has torn loose from a floodlit plinth.’
Page 29: ‘Now I’ll tell you word for word what that wretched creature wrote! We, his close followers, now bow our heads at his death.’ (This refers to the afternoon edition of Aftenposten 7th May 1945.)
“ The Chocolate Girl pulls Arnold down beside her and puts her arms around him. Arnold grows in her arms and she explains just about everything to him.”
Mundus vult decipi – The world will be taken in
Ergo decipiatur – thus it is deceived
Page 159: ‘He talks like a novel we once threw in the stove.’
Page 177: Røst ö, a fullstop in the sea “
‘And besides, they haven’t tarmacked over the Moskenes whirlpool yet.’
Page 239: “ Livin’ Lovin’ Doll – Cliff Richard Mum and Dad danced in the living room and for the remainder of the night they were equally loud in bed.”
Page 332: ‘Why is it called Greenland when there is only ice there?’ I asked. ‘Because the first people who reached it found a beautiful flower called convallaria, Barnum.'”
Page 335: I skipped supper and went to bed before ten, even though I wasn’t especially tired and I actually loathed the slow movement before you fell asleep, when you just lie there and time stretches like an elastic band, like round brackets, like a blue balloon.
Page 475: And Lauren Bacall looks at Bogart – she glows, glows in black and white, and her nostrils flare like an animal’s, the nostrils of a lioness. And she laughs – Bacall’s laughter – she mocks him, You’re a mess, aren’t you? And Bogart just answers, I’m not very tall either. Next time I’ll come on stilts.
Page 531: Sinnataggen, Frogner Park. Famous statue of an angry child.”
IMHO The defining moment of this story comes on Page 686: ‘What’s your favourite film?’
‘Hunger,’ I told her.
She smiled, pleased with the answer. ‘So your script is a kind of response to Hamsun?’
‘You could well say that,’ I agreed.
‘And your description of this farm, which is almost synonomous with a penal colony, is a kind of revolt against Hamsun’s fascism?’
The best summation I can come up with is that this documents the Norwegians return to Hamsun’s body of work in these years since he wrote that damnable obituary and this story is Hamsun-esque with a modern makeover. Truly astounding.