I Curse the River of Time
I am sure some people will enjoy and find much to admire about this novel. These are probably the kind of people who enjoy black and white Scandinavian films of the ilk satirised by French and Saunders; lots of staring into the distance and deep meaning extracted from a look or how long a hand is held or something like that. The reader will probably fall into one of two camps, the first seeing it as profound with precise luminous prose and the second will see it as self-indulgent and pretentious tedium. Sadly, I am in the second.
The plot, such as it is, follows 37-year-old Norwegian Arvid Jansen, who is getting divorced and also trying to come to terms with the fact that his mother has been diagnosed with cancer. He thinks a lot and reviews moments earlier in his life such as holidays on the beach and giving up his studies to go and work on a production line because he is a communist. A lot of the focus is also about his relationship with his mother, and we have many meaningful interludes when they drink coffee or calvados together and lots of roundabout things are said.
Pettersen’s previous novel, Out Stealing Horses, has won many prizes, so perhaps I am missing something here, but I found it dull in the extreme. I curse the river of time I spent reading it.