Moment Of Freedom by Jens Bjørneboe

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-1966, norway, under-500-ratings, summer-2014, picaresque, noir, author-in-the-mirror, germany, jewish, nazi-related, wwii

Recommended for: Don
Read from May 02 to August 21, 2014

 

Cover image: Frans Wideberg: Selvportrett (1976) 91.5 x 76 cms oil on canvas. Property of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo. Photograph Morten Thorkildsen

Original title:Frihetens øyeblikk: Heiligenberg-manuskriptet

Translated from the Norwegian by Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Opening: During the several years that I’ve now been a Servant of Justice, I haven’t been able to avoid acquiring a certain perspective on life.

Re-booted twice due to travelling.

Our depressed and oppressed Servant of Justice has a very prominent nickname that we are not privy too. He has teeth missing behind his beard and no-one knows he wears glasses because he only uses them for reading, and that he never does in public.

Hilarious, that is the only way to describe this, yet it is not really meant to be so as we are looking inside the author’s mind, and he commited suicide. The episodic narrative becomes more dire with each new adventure. Page 92 for instance:

In the town wall I found a narrow gate down at the end of one of the back streets, and outside was a road which was more than usually filthy. I hadn’t discovered this road before; the earth was black and moist, slippery, polluted. There was a placard nailed up on a dead tree trunk at the road’s edge: “This area is infested with…” Then followed a word I don’t understand, a monstrously long word containing something with “…ixo…”

Doesn’t that read like an old text adventure?

Have marked up the other two book as wishlist, however, unless they leap out at me and at a reasonable price, that is where they will stay. Four blackest of the black skulls.

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I Refuse by Per Petterson

I Refuse by Per Petterson


Random House UK, Vintage Publishing/ Harvill Secker. Translated by Don Bartlett.

Description: I refuse to compromise. I refuse to forgive. I refuse to forget.

Tommy’s mother has gone. She walked out into the snow one night, leaving him and his sisters with their violent father. Without his best friend Jim, Tommy would be in trouble. But Jim has challenges of his own which will disrupt their precious friendship.

Dedication:

to Øivind

Opening: DARK. IT WAS half past four in the morning. I was driving towards Herregårdsveien from Hauketo. Just before Ljan station I turned off to the left over the railway bridge, the lights were red, but there was no one else around, so I turned anyway.

I am inordinately fond of Petterson’s writing when he is on top form, and he so very nearly is here, with a tragic tale of family and friendship. A fab slice of Nordic gloom with an underlying translucency of Steinbeck’s ‘The Moon is Down’ and Telemark, fortified with repression and suppression. Three and a half fishermen.

5* Out Stealing Horses
4* To Siberia
4* In the Wake
2* I Curse the River of Time
2* It’s Fine By Me
3.5* I Refuse

The Half Brother by Lars Saabye Christensen, Kenneth Steven (Translator)

The Half Brother
 

bookshelves: translation, one-penny-wonder, norway, families, epic-proportions, summer-2012, tbr-busting-2012, published-2001, teh-demon-booze, teh-brillianz

Read from April 13 to June 26, 2012

 

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.”

page 141:
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

Page 179: 

‘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.

 

Leopard VI: The Norwegian Feeling for Real by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck, Jan Kjarstad

Leopard VI by Harald Bache-Wiig
 

 

Who doesn’t like the cover (excluding Scott from Utah of course); an extra star right there!

1. On An Old Farmstead in Europe by Hans Herbjörnsrud, translated by Liv Irene Myhre. A recounting of one of Norway’s oldest myths ‘Blind Margjit and the Man with the Eyes’.

2. The Dogs in Thessaloniki by Kjell Askildsen, translated by Agnes Scott Langeland. Pug-Ugly domestic scenario.

3. Ice by Roy Jacobsen, translated by Kenneth Steven. Had to read this one eyes through splayed fingers. Excellent suspense.

4. The Cock and Mr. Gopher by Jonny Halberg, translated by Don Bartlett. Culinary addiction.

5. I Could Not Tell You by Jon Fosse, translated by May-Britt Akerholdt. blergh – s.o.c. affected shite.

6. Cows by Lars Amund Vaage, translated by Nadia Christensen. Well that was a dairy farmer’s wet dream but no more entries like that, I hope.

7. The Last Beat Poets in Mid-Hordland by Ragnar Hovland, translated by James Anderson. Lovely story.

8. The Jealous Barber by Lars Saabye Christensen, translated by Kenneth Steven. A psychological thriller that was noirly amusing in its absurdity.

Just when I am mentally composing the end rant about the lack of female writers here, next up is a goodie:

9. The Pillar by Karin Fossum translated by Robert Ferguson. Bullying father reveals his fecklessness.

10. The Catalogue by Jostein Gaarder and translated by James Anderson. Superb piece of nihilism surrounding an every leap-year global publication.

11. A Good Heart by Karin Sveen and translated by Katherine Hanson. Crofting community and the question of hand-me-downs ♥♥♥

12. The Motif Herbjørg Wassmo and translated by Donna H Stockton. Not so much!

13. Dublin in the Rain by Frode Grytten and translated by Peter Cripps.

14. I’m Asleep by Tor Ulven and translated by Sverre Lyngstad. Lots of individual ideas to ponder upon here, however, does that make a good story?, I don’t think so.

This is the most ‘quotable snippets’ entry but I cannot recommend it as a whole.

15. Love by Hanne ørstavik and translated by James Anderson

A path runs into the forest, from a secret, forgotten place.
If you can only find it, your body will follow its trace.
Past trees and flowers and anthills and up to a castle so rare,
In the castle sit three damsels, fabulous, fine and fair.
For the prince they sit there waiting, naybe he’ll come one day,
They’re singing a song in the meantime, a lilting, lugubrious lay.

16. The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973 by Tor Åge Bringsværd and translated by Oddrun Grønvik.

17. A Forgotten Petunia by Bjørg Vik and translated by Don Bartlett.

18. Deep Need – Instant Nausea by Trude Marstein and translated by Don Bartlett.

19. The Story of the Short Story by Kjartan Fløgstad and translated by Sverre Lyngstad.

20. Life of a Trapper by Gro Dahle and translated by Katherine Hanson.

21. It’s So Damned Quiet Øystein Lønn, trans by Steven T. Murray.

22. Veranda With Sun Laila Stein, Katherine Hanson

22. Homecoming Jan Kjæstad, Sverre Lyngstad

23. The Long Trip by Beate Grimsrud, translated by Angela Shury-Smith

————————————-

Edited by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck and Jan Kjærstad.

Introduction by Harald Bache-Wiig.
—————————————-

Now a good thing about anthologies is that you can get a taster, a little peek at an unknown writer. Having enjoyed #3 I have ordered a book by Roy Jacobsen about the northern war.

The Private Journals of Edvard Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth by Edvard Munch

Recommended for: Don, Laura, Susanna, Fionnuala
Read on May 29, 2014

Watch the Full Film (3:32:03)

La Belle Epoch Norwegian style.

From wiki: Hans Henrik Jæger (2 September 1854, Drammen, Norway – 8 February 1910, Oslo) was a Norwegian writer, philosopher and anarchist political activist who was part of the Oslo (then Kristiania) based bohemian group Kristianiabohêmen. He was prosecuted for his book Fra Kristiania-bohêmen and convicted to 60 days’ imprisonment in a supreme court ruling in 1886. He and other bohemians tried to live by the nine commandments Jæger had formulated in the Fra Kristiania-bohêmen.

The following year, he was forced to flee Norway. He had been sentenced to 150 more days in prison after the Norwegian government learned that he had sent 300 copies of Fra Kristiania-bohêmen to Sweden under the auspices of a volume of Christmas stories. He was a friend of Edvard Munch, and was the subject of one of Munch’s paintings.

And so to Paris…

And now Berlin, where he meets up with August Strindberg

Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska (8 June 1867 – 5 June 1901) was a Norwegian writer, famous for her liaisons with various prominent artists, and for the dramatic circumstances of her death. She was the model for some of Edvard Munch’s paintings. She had relationships with Munch and briefly with August Strindberg. In 1893, she married the Polish writer Stanisław Przybyszewski. Together they had two children. She was shot by a young lover in a hotel room in Tbilisi in 1901, three days before her thirty-fourth birthday. See also The Legs of Izolda Morgan

How I feel for you, Munch, what with your poor health and existential angst.

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, paper-read, hardback, midlife-crisis, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, norway, spring-2013, bellybutton-mining, re-visit-2014, re-read, published-1996, spring-2014, under-500-ratings, oslo, trondheim, newtome-author, feckless-procrastination, food-glorious-food, lit-crit, politics, philosophy

Read from April 26, 2013 to May 06, 2014


First time around I abandoned this but I have been persuaded to give it another try: REBOOT 2014:

Description: An existential murder story. A master of Norwegian literature critiques contemporary society with wry wit.

It is Christmas Eve, and 55-year-old Professor Pål Andersen is alone, drinking coffee and cognac in his living room. Lost in thought, he looks out of the window and sees a man strangle a woman in the apartment across the street.

Professor Andersen fails to report the crime. The days pass, and he becomes paralysed by indecision. Desperate for respite, the professor sets off to a local sushi bar, only to find himself face to face with the murderer.

Professor Andersen’s Night is an unsettling yet highly entertaining novel of apathy, rebellion and morality. In flinty prose, Solstad presents an uncomfortable question: would we, like his cerebral protagonist, do nothing?

Discarded from Tower Hamlets Libraries
Translation by Agnes Scott Langeland

Opening: It was Christmas Eve and Professor Andersen had a Christmas tree in the living room. He stared at it. ‘Well, I must say,’ he thought.

Trondheim Cathedral

A wooly, waffley story of three parts: politics and dinner; dither and literary criticism; then sushi with philosophy for dessert.

At least I made it to the end this time, however I do feel that Solstad is not the writer for me.

Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller

bookshelves: spring-2014, norway, library-in-norway, one-penny-wonder, hardback, oslo, those-autumn-years, published-2012, mental-health, families, debut, jewish

Read in February, 2013

 

Description: He will not admit it to Rhea and Lars – never, of course not – but Sheldon can’t help but wonder what it is he’s doing here..

Eighty-two years old, and recently widowed, Sheldon Horowitz has grudgingly moved to Oslo, with his grand-daughter and her Norwegian husband. An ex-Marine, he talks often to the ghosts of his past – the friends he lost in the Pacific and the son who followed him into the US Army, and to his death in Vietnam.

When Sheldon witnesses the murder of a woman in his apartment complex, he rescues her six-year-old son and decides to run. Pursued by both the Balkan gang responsible for the murder, and the Norwegian police, he has to rely on training from over half a century before to try and keep the boy safe. Against a strange and foreign landscape, this unlikely couple, who can’t speak the same language, start to form a bond that may just save them both.

An extraordinary debut, featuring a memorable hero, Norwegian by Night is the last adventure of a man still trying to come to terms with the tragedies of his life. Compelling and sophisticated, it is both a chase through the woods thriller and an emotionally haunting novel about ageing and regret.

Frogner Park – Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) worked on the sculpture park from 1924 until his death in 1943.

Dedication: For my son

Opening: It is summer and luminous. Sheldon Horowitz sits on a folding director’s chair, high above the picnic and out of reach of the flood, in a shaded enclave in Oslo’s Frogner Park. There is a half-eaten karbonade sandwich that he doesn’t like on the paper plate cradled in his lap.

Nothing major at fault – it just proved to be an also-ran in my reading career. Three stars by the skin of its teeth.