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Lanet Olsun Zaman Nehrine, Norveçli yazar Per Petterson'un yayımlanmış son romanı. Hayatta aradığını bulamamış veya bulduğunu kaybetmiş, dünya üzerindeki yerini sağlamlaştıramamış, hep tereddüt eden, hep bocalayan bir adamın, Arvid Jansen'in hikâyesini kendi anlatımından öğreniyoruz bu romanda. Arvid geçmişi parça parça hatırlarken, hayatı zihnimizde yavaş yavaş belirginleLanet Olsun Zaman Nehrine, Norveçli yazar Per Petterson'un yayımlanmış son romanı. Hayatta aradığını bulamamış veya bulduğunu kaybetmiş, dünya üzerindeki yerini sağlamlaştıramamış, hep tereddüt eden, hep bocalayan bir adamın, Arvid Jansen'in hikâyesini kendi anlatımından öğreniyoruz bu romanda. Arvid geçmişi parça parça hatırlarken, hayatı zihnimizde yavaş yavaş belirginleşiyor: İhtiyaç duyduğu sevgi ve ilgiden mahrum kaldığı çocukluğu; idealleri uğruna üniversiteyi bırakıp bir fabrikada işçi olarak çalıştığı ve aşkta hep aradığı sığınağı bulduğu gençliği; boşanmanın eşiğinde olduğu ve annesinin mide kanserine yakalandığını öğrendiği buhranlı yetişkinlik yılları.Arvid'in hikâyesi her şeyden önce, duyguların bastırıldığı ve ilişkilerin mesafeli olduğu bir ortamda içindeki yoğun duyguları ifade etmeye, mesafeleri aşmaya çalışan bir adamın yaşadığı hüsranın hikâyesi.Tıpkı yarattığı karakterler gibi, Peterson da açıkça söylediğinden çok daha fazlasını anlatıyor bu romanda. Boşluk, varlığıyla gösteriyor yokluğu. Yakın insan temasının varlığıyla yokluğu arasındaki farkın büyüklüğünü bir kez daha görüyoruz tüm açıklığıyla....

Title : Lanet Olsun Zaman Nehrine
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789753428538
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 184 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Lanet Olsun Zaman Nehrine Reviews

  • Agnieszka
    2019-02-22 07:57

    Fragile images of departure, the village back then.I curse the river of time; thirty-two years have passed. Arvid Jansen, the narrator of the novel, is occupied with own failures. Disappointed with youthful ideas, embittered with marriage that is on the rocks, and to cap it all off he just learnt about mother’s illness and her unexpected journey to native Denmark, to their summer house. On strange impulse Arvid follows her and by the way for a moment escapes own troubles, and the whole novel is a quiet examination of these threads. I curse the river of timeis a understated and low-keyed novel. It’s fragmented, at times even disjointed. I’m strangely attracted by the writers who can render more substance with silence than dozens words, who leave something to read between the lines, who make the reader to use own sensitivity to capture the essence and imagination to fill in the blank spaces and hear unsaid words. And Per Petterson seems to be such a writer.In the youth Arvid was a believer in communist system, he even dropped studying to become a common worker to his mother’s great dissatisfaction. But now, it’s 1989, the world order is changing, The Berlin Wall is crumbling and after Tiananmen Square Massacre Arvid can only allow himself on empty gestures to protest under the Chinese Ambassy. Arvid is a sensitive man but what more strikes us is his lassitude and incapacity to face life. From his disorderly and blurry memories slowly emerges an image of an extremely lonely and defeated man. Chagrined at juvenescent dreams, unfulfilled, neither in love nor in work, unable to establish a closer relationship with any family member or friend has to face the truth whenyou suddenly realise that every chance of being the person you really wanted to be, is gone for ever, and the one you were, is the one those around you will remember.At age 37, he seems immature and unable to accept anything that life had offered him. There was a woman he had once affection for, and a friend who now can only give him a knuckle sandwich. There was a dying brother and there are also other brothers. There were one summer holidays and there are his daughters. But everything and everyone equally distant from Arvid as he himself is detached from life. We can see Arvid who got drunk on the fiftieth birthday of his mother unable to say any word about her, Arvid who is alike his father though he would prefer to have strong personality of his mother. It is a great bitterness, a sense of lost time and unrealized chances. There is finally Arvid who can only paraphrase the words of Mao’s poem and curse the passage of time and thirty something years of emptiness and futile attempts. Existential crisis goes hand in hand with nearly childish desire to be noticed, appreciated, loved. But do not we all curse the river of time at some point in our lives? Don’t we all have sometimes that moment of clarity when it dawns to us what we have done with our lives ?I was a man out of time, or my character had a flaw, a crack in its foundation that would grow wider with each year .The novel emanates with melancholia and sadness, the ambience is almost elegiac, enhanced by the harsh still beautiful Nordic scenery, and the emotional coldness additionally highlighted by the late-autumn aura.3.5/5

  • Cheryl
    2019-01-28 03:34

    But something had happened, nothing hung together anymore, all things had spaces, had distances between them, like satellites, attracted to and pushed away, at the same instant, and it would take immense willpower to cross those spaces, those distances, much more than I had available, much more than I had the courage to use.A reader follows Petterson's deliberate prose and reaches layers of profundity tucked away in a coat of simplicity. Darkness is cloaked by the gleam of stars; beauty covers gloom. Somewhere at the heart of the story, is the shape of a life lived reluctantly, a life lived with regret. This is a novel structured after a man's reflections on life, just as he is forced to face death. His mother is dying of cancer and he realizes he has never truly felt her love. He is about to be divorced from his wife and although one never learns the real reason, one figures out through subtleties, through the melancholy that seeps from his thoughts. The word unfolded in all its majesty, back in time, forward in time, history was one long river and we were all borne along that river. People all over the world had the same yearnings, the same dreams and stood hand in hand in one great circle aroudn the globe. It's hard to imagine newly-published books with the poignancy that moves through these pages, like enjambment in poetry; hard to imagine busy employees taking a moment to savor these words. The world is so accelerated and caffeine-induced, but sometimes a story like this one complements a hasty environment, where the sound of the pages turning in a good book is rare. The serene setting of this novel matches its serene structure, matches its thought-provoking sentences.

  • Tanuj Solanki
    2019-02-15 08:39

    Per se, a long-living Per will, say, win the NobelI came to this after reading James Wood's article on Per Petterson's novels, in which Wood receives this novel with a particular benevolence that is beyond criticism, and very close to the region of awe.Though Wood doesn't mention it, but a similar awe that he holds for W.G. Sebald might have played its minor role. For according to me, Petterson's voice is very Sebaldesque. Though if Petterson is a Sebald, he is definitely a different kind of Sebald. A more personal, more private Sebald. A Sebald not concerned with History's catastrophic losses (history with an 'H') in themselves, but with the here-and-now afterimages of a family's history and its intermingling with History as a faint, external force. But perhaps by making this forced likeness with the German great I'm suggesting an unoriginality in Petterson. That's not true. Petterson is as original a writer you'll ever read. He might be -- if it can somehow not be considered foolish jest emanating from having read just one exceptional work -- the best European writer alive. 'I curse...' is foremost the story of a mother-son relationship. Arvid Jensen, 37, facing an imminent divorce, is second in four brothers. One of the brother died six years back from an unspecified death. Now the mother might be dying of cancer. Her oncoming death rekindles a desire in her, to run away from the home in suburban Oslo to Frederikshaven in north-Eastern Denmark, where the family has a summer house. Perhaps she is doing this to retrace some past one last time. The son follows her there, himself running away from a brutal present. It is winter time in the summer house.Petterson recreates this action in the voice of the 37 year old Arvid, in a series of measured chapters that collude present action with episodes from the past. The episodes are recalled in a flourish that remembers particular gestures and trifle details but is tacit regarding the feelings. Arvid recalls interactions with his mother, and recalls the working class environment of his family, his turning into a Communist and a worker at the cost of leaving college (a decision that angered his mother and is one of the major plot points in the novel without feeling like one). He recalls his absence at brother's death, pitted against his volunteering to have a neighbour's dog put down. And other such...Among all these recollection are invoked films, songs, novels, cigarette brands, liquor brands, the names of places - as if they are somehow stores for our memories rather than the other way around. This quite remarkable reflexivity is achieved with ease, with a simplicity that hides the complex work it requires.The novel could be entirely this evocation and it wouldn't hurt at all. But there is more to it, more emotional intensity, though anything revealed here will be a spoiler now. All I should say is that it is an extraordinary story, told in extraordinary poetry, with subtle technical inventions, and supported by heaps of formal novelistic rigour. Where trickster's novels leave us gawking at their cleverness, those written by masters like Petterson take us with them, by holding our hands, to the places of their imaginations (although wintery Scanidnavia is not a pleasant place to be), and we feel compassion more than conscious envy.

  • Jill
    2019-02-13 10:02

    It’s difficult to compare Per Petterson with anyone except Per Petterson. His writing is always exquisite and precise and heartbreaking and spare. In Out Stealing Horses and To Siberia, each word is used as a brick, building one upon the other, and not one brick is out of place.Per Petterson’s craftsmanship is on display here, as it has been in his prior novels. Alas, this one, which is explores the relationship between a mother and a son, is more static and sluggish than his other works. Still, Petterson at his less-than-best is still better than most writers at the height of their powers.Arvid Jansen is 37 and life hasn’t turned out exactly as it should. He has plundered the promise of a higher education to become part of the proletariat; he has embraced Communism and now the “party of the people” has unraveled and the Berlin wall is coming down His wife of 15 years is filing for divorce. And his mother – his beautiful, aloof, and strong mother – has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Arvid follows his mother to Norway where he reflects on his childhood, his flirtation with Communism, his birth family, and the women who have flitted through his life. Of his mother, he reflects, “I became the Lone Ranger, looking for unsafe ground, and I clung to her did tricks for her, performed for her, pulled laughter out of her with my silly jokes whose punchlines were lost in linguistic confusion…”Indeed, Arvid feels like he has disappointed his mother. In one of the more poignant scenes, his memory captures a time when his mother turned 50 and he prepared to give a toast. Drunk, out of his league, he bungles the moment and humiliates himself. He wants to say, “The good news, Mother, is the river had dried up…only a trickle remains so now it is easy to cross…so you see, nothing’s too late for us, we can walk right across or meet halfway.” What he DOES say is far different.Much of this book deals with the chasms between us, the rivers of time that don’t let us cross and connect. The river-as-time metaphor captures how Arvid is caught in the flow of life, sometimes turbulent, that has upturned his life and now may do the same to his two daughters. And, much like a river, the narrative ebbs and flows, becomes bogged down, bursts free in spurts, and meanders to its destination.Eventually, Arvid realizes that “…you suddenly realize that very chance of being the person you really wanted to be is gone forever, and the one you were is the one that those around you will remember.” In this, he is like everyman – sorting through regrets, trying to define who he really is, attempting to make peace (if only in his memories) with who he is and has been.The novel’s title is taken from a poem by Chairman Mao whom Arvid idolized in his Communist days; maturity and eventual mortality are themes that run throughout the book. This novel of ideas requires concentration and total immersion in the mind of Arvid; much of the action is internal and distanced. It will appeal to some, but not all, of Per Petterson’s fans.

  • metaphor
    2019-02-04 02:01

    The author makes lots of references about books, especially those of Hemingway and Remarque. His protagonist drinks Calvados like the doomed lovers in Remarques novels. Though he mocks at Hemingway's behaviour towards Fitzgerald, he imitates Hemingway's style of writing a lot and I'm not sure should I hate or love him for it? Maybe this resemblance makes the book so alluring?I laughed again. ‘You and I,’ I said. ‘Just you and I.’‘Isn’t it fun,’ she said and she smiled. I let the oars rest in the rowlocks. The water around the boat fell silent, and silently the cabin was floating up above the rocks and the smoke rose softly from the chimney, and how impossible it was to grasp that in the end something as fine as this could be ground into dust.Anyway, it was a fine novel about memory and the effort to survive with beautiful lyric floating sentences.But something had happened, nothing hung together any more, all things had spaces, had distances between them, like satellites, attracted to and pushed away at the same instant, and it would take immense willpower to cross those spaces, those distances, much more than I had available, much more than I had the courage to use. *[...] there was open sea to both sides, and the sea, it was like an old friend, [...] many times I have stood like that in the night, looking out over the sea: there is a calm there to be found which at times I have badly needed.*[...] I had felt it so often myself; how time without warning could catch up with me and run around beneath my skin like tiny electric shocks and I could not stop them, no matter how much I tried. And when they let up at last and everything fell quiet, I was already a different person than I had been before, and it sometimes made me despair.*[...] and I realised that these fifteen minutes I had thought I could inhabit so safely were far from being an expanding space, on the contrary, it was like it always is with time, that it can slip through your fingers when you are not looking.*I had had that feeling for so long it was a part of who I was.

  • Judith
    2019-02-15 08:57

    What a great title. It rivals his other book: "Out Stealing Horses". Unfortunately, I felt like cursing the river of Petterson's whiny digressive meandering narrative in this book. I know the Scandinavian authors cannot allow any light to slip into their books, lest thy be accused of frivolity, but OMG, you may need a handful of uppers to get through this book. Arvid's mother is dying of stomach cancer and Arvid is getting dumped by his wife. He takes his two young daughters for outings which consist of driving around hairpin curves in a borrowed car while discussing black holes. As Arvid's mother prepares to die by smoking and drinking and visiting their summer beach cabin, Arvid recalls the many golden moments of bonding they shared. He remembers fondly her calling him an idiot; striking him across the face; leaving him in a tea shop in a fury; visiting the hospital where his brother was dying years earlier; taking the family dog to the vet's to be put down because they were tired of it. Ah yes, those were the days. Arvid's contemplation of his relationship with his father is much more straightforward, but still yawn-worthy. ( ahem):" I did not want to look like him. I did not want to look in the mirror and see my father there. But from early on I realised that the day would come when everyone could see how much I resembled my father. It would separate me from my mother for good. Even though the two of them were married. And shared a life. But that was not how I saw it. That they shared a life. And it would tie me to my father for good because I looked like him and perhaps thought like he did, and against my will would find myself on the other side of the great divide, the great chasm where he lived in the murky twilight among the crammed furniture, where his father was with his Adolf in the middle, and his brothers, who were my uncles, a small crowd of gloomy men standing shoulder to shoulder nailed to a place where my mother did not belong, because she was different from them, because she had been carried away to this place and so in some strange way was free."

  • Cheryl
    2019-02-02 02:38

    It was difficult at first to give myself into Petterson's simple rhythms. The story is mostly backstory, and he meanders about his memories and his past life in ways that sometimes seem irrelevant. But his wonderful poetic prose -- the "dementing lures" described by James Wood in his recent New Yorker review ( -- kept rescuing me from my impatience.

  • João Carlos
    2019-02-21 07:55

    Per Petterson (n. 1952)“Maldito Seja o Rio do Tempo” do norueguês Per Petterson (n. 1952), tem como personagem principal Arvid Jansen e o fio condutor da história decorre, essencialmente, de três grandes acontecimentos: a sua mãe tem um cancro no estômago, o seu casamento com 15 anos chega ao fim e a queda do Muro de Berlim.Três grandes mudanças – morte, divórcio e convulsão geopolítica – enquadradas por uma narrativa que se desenvolve e amplia entre a Noruega e a Dinamarca, num conflito geracional entre mãe e filho, e numa ausência permanente da figura paterna.O narrador Arvin Jansen procura na sua infância e juventude uma explicação para a ruptura ocorrida entre ele e a sua mãe, que se acentua dramaticamente pela sua opção política, a ideologia comunista, e pela rejeição de uma frequência universitária.Um acontecimento trágico – a morte de um irmão – acentua o distanciamento familiar - a queda do Muro de Berlim – acaba por destruir as suas convicções políticas. A narrativa de “Maldito Seja o Rio do Tempo” está impregnada de referência cinematográficas e literárias e é construída em diversos planos temporais, numa relação complexa entre Arvin Jansen e a sua mãe Ingrid, conflituosa, silenciosa e sufocante, mas que influenciou no passado e no presente o seu comportamento social e emocional.Per Petterson escreve de uma forma rigorosa e convincente, construindo um conjunto de personagens complexas e ambíguas, enquadradas magistralmente pelas paisagens frias e agrestes da Noruega e da Dinamarca. O título do livro é retirado de um poema de Mao “Imagens frágeis da partida, a aldeia naquele tempo. Amaldiçoo o rio do tempo; trinta e dois anos passaram.”“Madito Seja o Rio do Tempo” é uma excelente leitura, mas “Cavalos Roubados” está num nível literário superior.

  • Krista
    2019-02-21 05:37

    But something had happened, nothing hung together any more, all things had spaces, had distances between them, like satellites, attracted to and pushed away at the same instant, and it would take immense willpower to cross those spaces, those distances, much more than I had available, much more than I had the courage to use.In I Curse the River of Time, from some unidentified future year, Arvid Jansen looks back at November of 1989 – a month that saw the confluence of three major personal upheavals for him – and as Arvid dips in and out of the events of that time, he also remembers and shares other, pivotal life events. The result is a meandering and affecting portrait of a man in existential crisis; a 37-year-old man-child, desperate to cling on to his mother's skirts even as she's diagnosed with cancer and attempts to complete her own life's business. The title of this book comes from a poem written by Mao Zedong, a passage here translated as:Fragile images of departure, the village back then. I curse the river of time; thirty-two years have passed.Arvid was a militant Marxist, even causing a rift between his mother and himself when he decided to drop out of college to join the peuple at a factory job; a job just like the ones his parents both toiled at and hoped their son could avoid through education. With a picture of Chairman Mao hung proudly above his sofa between Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, Arvid thought that Mao's poetry captured his own essence, as interpreted by this passage:(T)ime without warning could catch up with me and run around beneath my skin like tiny electric shocks and I could not stop them, no matter how much I tried. And when they let up at last and everything fell quiet, I was already a different person than I had been before, and it sometimes made me despair. It was very interesting to me, therefore, to read in this article that the poem above is considered a poor translation, and the passage more properly says:Like a dim dream recalled, I curse the long-fled past - My native soil two and thirty years gone by.The difference between cursing the passing of time and cursing the past itself is apparently crucial (according to this article's writer, André Alexis; a perceptive author whom I admire) to understanding both Mao and Arvid, leading to the conclusion: As a result, Arvid isn't so much an unreliable narrator as he is a bewildered one. Bewildered pretty much captures it. The meandering and unfocussed nature of the reminiscences are mirrored in the frequently long and jam-packed sentences:My father’s brothers with their wives did call on rare occasions and every other Christmas my mother’s childless sister came up from Copenhagen acting upper class with her husband who worked in a firm importing French cars and was the creepy owner of an 8mm camera he used for all kinds of things, and my grandparents would also come, their palms worn and hard, from another, more puritanical town in the same country, in the same fashion, by ferry, grey hair, grey clothes, standing windswept and grey on the quay waiting for my father to come down along Trondhjemsveien in a rare taxi to pick them up and sometimes I, too, was in that taxi and they looked so small next to their big suitcases. As Arvid skips from present to past (all written in the future), I was often amused to notice him writing omnisciently about his mother's narrative – describing her thoughts and actions for times when he was not present and couldn't possibly have that level of detail about – and then always inserting himself into these passages by sharing his own feelings or judgements. At its core, I Curse the River of Time is about Arvid's attempt to get closer to his mother, even as he can't bring himself to say the words he wants to say; to invoke the titular river again, Arvid imagines the gulf between himself and his mother as the uncrossable Rio Grande (and in a blackly comedic reminiscence, he once tried to explain that to her – a long time ago – with disastrous results). It's uncomfortable to watch Arvid try to approach his mother – to be inside his agonised head – and to see him acting like a child and falling into the frigid water and getting into barroom fights and needing to have his fares and hotel rooms paid for, and know his mother doesn't want him there; didn't need to have him follow her from Norway to Denmark without an invitation. Arvid was the only one of four sons to look like their father (which he resented as a further distancing from the their mother), the only child who had been wanted and planned for (which he resented, again, as distancing), and in all of his memories, he had the most special connection with his mother: the one who shared with her a love of literature and films (even if in the end he was just forgetting when another brother would be present at the cinema with them); the one who would sneak out of bed after their father left for work in the morning in order to have alone time with Mom. Despite spending a lifetime reaching out, Arvid believes:She did not pay attention, she turned her gaze to other things. She saw me come in and didn’t know where I had been, she saw me go out and didn’t know where I was heading, how adrift I was, how 16 I was without her, how 17, how 18. As a result, he's a man who never grew up, even now facing a divorce from a woman who was shockingly younger than Arvid when they first got together – and I suppose the inference is that she eventually did grow up; outgrew a husband who squeezes his eyes shut in order to avoid having a hard conversation with her. In a nice parallel scene, the book ends with Arvid watching his mother watch the ocean from her knees on a freezing Danish beach:I lay like this for a few moments to see if she would stand up, but she didn't. I crawled back and leaned against the mound, squeezed my eyes shut and tried to concentrate. I was searching for something very important, a very special thing, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not find it. I pulled some straws from a cluster of marram grass and put them in my mouth and started chewing. They were hard and sharp and cut my tongue, and I took more, a fistful, and stuffed them in my mouth and chewed them while I sat there, waiting for my mother to stand up and come to me.Don't you just want to smack Arvid and tell him to grow up already? I Curse the River of Time is literature as art, and as such it may not be for all tastes, but I found it to be brutal and honest and emotional and just so very, very well crafted. Author Per Petterson is a master (which I should have remembered since I loved Out Stealing Horses once upon a time) and I'll be moving him up on my list of authors to devour.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-01-31 08:39

    Translated by Charlotte Barslund.Discarded from London Borough of Lewisham Library.Opening:All this happened quite a few years ago.#57 TBR Busting 2013Didn't like this navel-gazing much at all.Next!!5* Out Stealing Horses4* To Siberia4* In the Wake2* It's Fine By Me2* I Curse the River of Time

  • Ms.pegasus
    2019-01-25 05:34

    This is a book about endings. The narrator Arvid Jansen's marriage is ending. His mother has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Arvid's narrative is preoccupied with the vanished structures of his childhood. A footbridge once crossed over the reedy shore and accessed the good swimming spots. The Palace Theater on the quay is gone. The Ferry Inn is now the Bar Sinatra. A bar he once frequented moved about two years ago and relocated a few streets down. Even the old ferry, the Holger Danske, is in its last week of service, although he didn't know this at the time. It will be docked, turned into a shelter for refugees, and then finally be scrapped. As if to punctuate these physical endings, Arvid, in a fit of drunken paranoia, fails to recognize a man he knew in his youth some twenty-five years ago and punches him. Later, when he realizes the mistake he appraises the incident: “Our friendship was over, and at once I began to miss it, the way it once was, the way it could have been, but all the summers were gone, and not only because I had forgotten them after twenty-five years, but because there was no longer any point remembering them.” (p.182)The scenes jump backward and forwards in time. Childhood memories are interspersed with the events of 1989, a pivotal year when he dropped out of college, and some twenty years later when he is 37 but seems much older. Arvid is an unlikely choice for a main character. He is physically incapacitated from drinking and mentally incapacitated by his inability to deal with the present. He mentions a garage door he has neglected to repair for weeks. The divorce, as his mother correctly surmises, is his wife's decision. His relationship with his family assumes an almost formulaic aspect of scripted words and avoided eye contact. His first person narrative is almost totally devoid of any personal insight. He never admits to a problem with alcohol. Instead, the reader views a series of scenes. On the ferry he mentions that he had overslept when the ferry docks. Later, he recaps in casual but revealing generalities a bar scene the night before:"It was a tight squeeze for anyone wanting to drink. Those of us who badly wanted to were crammed together as we carefully held our cigarettes between the fingers of one hand while holding a beer or a double whisky tight to our chest with the other, manoeuvring the glass very slowly up past the shirt collar and chin to swallow every precious drop.” (p.29) On shore he is attracted to a liquor store:"...I really had no need for the goods on its shelves, not after my night on the ferry....” (p.32) Nevertheless, he rationalizes the expenditure of his carfare for a bottle of Calvados with yet another burst of childhood memory. The events of his present time-line never improve. Nothing he says or does brings him into closer emotional connection with his mother. On the last day of his visit, he acts like a petulant child. It's embarrassing — to the cabdriver, to his mother's friend Hansen, and even to the reader. At one point he had recalled a comment his mother once made about the actor James Dean:“...he was too whiny, too immature, he was spineless, she thought, and would be quickly forgotten.” (p.33) It's a seed Petterson implants early in the book and then quietly cultivates with scenes of Arvid's behavior.Read this book as if Arvid's mother were the main character and an intriguing picture emerges. She is a tough passionate woman who has been forced to make compromises in order to get on with her life. Yet, Arvid scarcely seems to know who she is. Recalling her 50th birthday, he incorrectly anticipates a tiny gathering because his parents hardly socialize in his eyes. In fact the gathering is quite large. Obviously important enough for relatives to come from long distances and attract people he doesn't even know but who are apparently friends of his mother. In other scenes he attributes her tears to physical pain. The reader senses they are her own visitations to the past and disappointment over what might have been. The title of the book is a reference to a poem by Mao tse-Tung whom the youthful and naïve Arvid idolized. Petterson, however, seizes the metaphor with extraordinary discipline. Arvid's panic attacks are manifested as pressure on the chest and throat, suggestive of the sense of drowning. At one point, Arvid imagines himself encased in a past of old movies and old books ”...where the action was bound to a time that was long gone, and yet here I came, walking, right there and then, adrift in time and space.” (p.34) His car excursions with his two daughters has an aimless meandering quality devoid of a fixed destination. Of a change when he returns to the house one summer he reflects: ”I have never really been able to see enormous changes coming until the last minute, never seen how one trend conceals another, as Mao used to say, how the one flowing right below the surface can move in a whole different direction than the one you thought everyone had agreed on, and if you did not pay attention when everything was shifting, you would be left behind, alone.”(p.67) Petterson adopts a unique stream of consciousness narrative for his story. The sentences spill out, long, effusive, the thoughts and elaborations connected by conjunctions. Interspersed are sentence fragments. He uses the time disruptions as if memories were suppressed or in the process of being re-edited. For example, the 1989 birthday party is narrated in increments. Arvid's mother visits him two months after they have had a falling out to make sure he is coming. The narrative flashes forward to just after the party when Arvid returns home to his girlfriend. It then flashes back to the morning of the party and in painful detail moves slowly forward to the moment of his drunken exhibition.Another way to read this book is to imagine there are no characters, only interstices like the negative space of a sculpture. The voids dramatize the shifting forms of loneliness and disconnect that can comprise a lifetime of family relationships.The first time I read this book, I hated it. However, the author has been praised so widely that I had to revisit it to discover what I was missing. There are some books that require a different approach to reading, and this is one of them. I still have mixed reactions to it, but with its attention to form and shape, it is a contemplative exploration of the self-absorption of aging.NOTES: touches on the topic of how to read a bookhttp://glorifiedloveletters.blogspot.... is a review that sympathizes with Arvid is James Wood's review of the book in The Newyorker.I had hoped to find an interview with Charlotte Barslund about her collaboration with Petterson on this book since this was such an unsual piece of writing, but could not find anything.

  • M. Sarki
    2019-02-22 07:40

    There is plenty of compassion in a Per Petterson novel. Even with at least three difficult themes wrapped up into one package. Death, relationships, and the examination of a life too late in the game now to change. This novel was not "fun" to read, but I am glad I read it. Seems I end up liking pretty much everything the man writes. The end result for me was in a difficulty overcome, and that is saying something.

  • Elizabeth (Alaska)
    2019-01-24 06:49

    This book was similar to his other I have read, Out Stealing Horses, in that the first person narrator recalled various events in his life. This book did not speak to me in the same way, however.The book switches between the present and these various memories. It was occasionally difficult at first to know what time period I was reading. Arvid recalls falling in love with an unnamed woman, who I have assumed became his wife (though that is not clear), and from whom he is getting a divorce. He also remembers when he became a Communist, how he quit University because of this political conviction, and his subsequent work life. The present is with his mother, who has recently received a diagnosis of stomach cancer, but he also has childhood memories. While this paragraph may feel spoilerish, all of these situations are revealed in the first pages.This book is about loss (or regret, I can't decide): the divorce, his mother's cancer, and, as this takes place in 1989, the fall of Communism in Russia. I love the way Petterson writes, but I couldn't feel a connection to his character in this one. His mother was too matter of fact, and the girl friend/wife didn't have a name. Even so, I'm sure I'll pick up another by this author.

  • Amy
    2019-01-23 09:44

    I Curse the River of Time is Per Petterson’s newest title, and it feels different from his previous novels. For one thing, there is a different feel to the words, almost a jagged and sharp edge to the prose. While Out Stealing Horses was almost dreamlike in its beauty and simplicity, this has more of an abrupt edge to it. That became apparent to me in reading portions of it aloud (a cranky baby was resisting sleep) and the words felt chunky and awkward, the sentences long and meandering. Given the subject matter, the complicated relationship of a son with his mother, I think this simply underlines just how talented a writer Petterson is. The style fits the story.The novel begins with the illness of Arvid Jansen’s mother, and her quick journey away from home to absorb her news. Arvid quickly follows. The telling is interspersed with flashbacks of Arvid’s life, from incidents in childhood to more recent times with his impending divorce. His mother is portrayed as a distant but loving individual, with a strong personality and an aloofness towards Arvid that is never formally explained. It is very much centered on Arvid and his inner feelings as he perceives her, rather than her personal motivations.Much of what makes this novel fascinating is by what isn’t said: several significant events happen (a family death, her illness itself) that are not explored at all. Rather Petterson focuses on how those events affect Arvid and his mother. If he were to have explained every detail of those events a reader would likely be struck more by the tragedy and its details rather than by what Petterson is getting at, the more subtle change in relationships. It’s really very clever to read it that way. It’s almost as if those very dramatic events are secondary to who these people really are. As a child, Arvid didn’t fit in with his family, despite his parent’s assurances of how much he was ‘wanted’ by them, and valued. On a dismal occasion when a stranger took him to be an outsider from his family,“But what I found out that summer…was that I could swallow whatever hit me and let it sink as if nothing had happened. So I pretended to play a game that meant nothing to me now, I made all the right movements, and then it looked as if what I was doing had a purpose, but it did not.” There are allusions made to what might cause him to feel this way, and Petterson lets us wonder. As in life, he seems to want to tell us, there are no easy answers. I have some personal suspicions why this may be, but I don't want to spoil the mystery for anyone else (and I could easily be wrong).Arvid’s life is more complicated than most, especially in his relationships with women. Three significant relationships are explored, and all of them seem to have him positioned still in the childish role of needing affirmation. In considering his divorce, he thinks “…there is just you and me, we said to each other, just you and me, we said. But something had happened, nothing hung together any more, all things had spaces, had distances between them, like satellites, attracted to and pushed away at the same instant, and it would take immense willpower to cross those spaces, those distances, much more than I had available, much more than I had the courage to use.”One of Arvid’s great desires is to be a good Communist, to help the ‘proletariat’ and his usage of that word rather than the more common ‘working class’ used by his Communist friends, infers he deems his calling in a more elevated sense than a true Communist might normally feel. While his parents had been in the working class themselves, his choosing it rather than pursuing college is his means to be different from them. A confusing choice for a man completely confused about who he is.His feelings towards his mother are obsessive. He thinks of her often yet tries to appear distant and wants her to know he's separate: “There was a before and after now, a border which I had crossed, or a river perhaps, like the Rio Grande, and suddenly I was in Mexico where things were different and a little frightening, and the crossing had left its mark on my face, which my mother would instantly see and realize that we were standing on opposite sides of the river, and the fact that I left her would hurt her, and she would no longer like me and not want me.” Yet despite the chasm he imagines, he actually still seeks her out, chasing her even, not wanting to miss a moment of her attention and hoping for any kind of approval. What I found especially signifcant was that while Arvid actively seeks his mother's blessing, he shows little concern for the rest of his family, to the point that his brothers and father remain on the periphery of his life (and this story).The story is complex and requires a careful reading. Speeding through this one will offer no satisfaction, this one to relish and unravel. One thing that jumped out at me, and it had to be intentional, was that the character of Arvid Jansen is the same name as the main character in In the Wake by Petterson, where Arvid loses most of his family in a ferry accident (a horror suffered by Petterson himself). If that is indeed the case, then this book would serve as a prequel to In the Wake, and thus his story continues. This is the fourth of the Petterson books I have read and own, and he continues to be one of my favorite authors.

  • Jeanette
    2019-02-20 06:03

    Amazon blurble:"It is 1989: Communism is crumbling, and Arvid Jansen, thirty-seven, is facing his first divorce. At the same time, his mother gets diagnosed with cancer. Over a few intense autumn days, we follow Arvid as he struggles to find a new footing in his life while all the established patterns around him are changing at staggering speed. I Curse the River of Time is an honest, heartbreaking yet humorous portrayal of a complicated mother-son relationship told in Per Petterson’s precise and beautiful prose."

  • Lori
    2019-02-08 05:38

    Review copy from publisherThis seems to be a common theme for me lately - reading books I would not normally have read from authors I would not normally choose to read on my own, and absolutely LOVING the hell out them!And that is a sad thing, isn't it? The thought of having missed out on this novel, of walking by it when it hit the bookstores next month without a flicker of interest had it not been made available to me for review through Graywolf Press, of possibly never having had the experience of reading anything by this author, makes me feel a little sick.Perhaps I should give you some history first. To explain why I may have passed this book by. Before I commence with all of my gushing and oohing and aahing and all.There are a few things that contribute to my lack of initial interest in a novel, and they tend to coexist and follow one after the other. (Keep in mind that this is not something I am proud of, necessarily, and am working very hard to overcome.)1. Usually, the story-line fails to grab my attention. If the books premise doesn't sound like something I can get into, I will usually skip it. For those of you who know me, or follow the books I've read, you will know that I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to reading. Basically, if it is Historical Fiction, War Fiction, Romance, or Non Fiction, it gets pushed to the wayside. Everything else is fair game. So it takes a lot for me to drop or refuse a book at this point.2. If it makes the story-line cut, I move on to the back cover blurb. If I lose interest here, it's because the novel's back cover blurb doesn't sell it's finer points. If I am still a little 'iffy' about, I move on to step 3.3. Do a test read of the first two pages of the novel. If a book cannot grab my interest in the first two pages, I won't be fully engaged with it. It's bound to be a struggle, and struggling knocks my star rating down to a three, at the very best. There have been numerous novels that I have picked up in the bookstores that have passed the story-line and blurb tests, and failed miserably when I cracked it open to test read.Now, considering the fact that I had never read anything by Per Petterson , I was familiar with his name. He is best known for his multi-award winning 2005 English release of Out Stealing Horses and I Curse the River of Time was being talked up quite a bit, and expectations were being set awfully high for this pre-release. So I took a peek, and took the plunge.This one was tricky, though, because it would have normally failed my first two tests.The buzz surrounding it promotes it as novel that takes place during the fall of Communism in Norway in the late Eighties. Going by the blurb, it sounds like a story that is going to be hard to follow, with lots of subplots and flashbacks. And it seems to guarantee a good cry (I hate good cries, I hide from good cries). The blurb also reinforces my original assumption that it is a war-ish kind of novel, or, at least, a novel that revolves around wartime. The blurb does not do the book justice!!As for my final test, I couldn't test read since it was an ARC from the publisher, but it came highly recommended by my friends at Graywolf. However, it would have passed the test read with flying colors since the writing is absolutely superb right from the start! Once I did finally crack it open I knew, I just knew, it was love at first sight. Or first read. Or whatever!Per Petterson has a mesmerizing way with words. He takes this story of Arvid, a thirty six year old man in the middle of a divorce who has just been informed that his mother is dying of cancer, and manages to transform it into this incredibly emotional experience through his stunning prose.Similar to Cormac McCarthy in delivery and style, Petterson seems to chose each word so carefully, placing them together so perfectly, that the reader is helplessly swept up in the tale. He surrounds you with images and feelings, rather than scenery. The words fall away and leave you encompassed by textures and smells. I Curse the River of Time refuses to be read. It begs to be experienced. It becomes a tactile, sensorial thing. It crawls it's way under your skin and sleeps there, comfortably.Am I crossing a line? Gushing too much? That cannot be possible. This book deserves all the early praise it's received and then some. It should be read by anyone and everyone who calls themselves a reader. It should be placed on everyone's Must Have lists. It should not be missed.It will become the book that Per Petterson is best known for.It has become my 'Next Best Book'!! It is 'Bookwhore Worthy'. Prepare for me to promote the living hell out of this one. It has quickly worked itself up to Jose Saramago, Cormac McCarthy, and Jules Verne status. (Those of you who know me well will understand what an achievement that is.)Do not judge this book by its blurb. Do not walk past this book in the bookstores when it hits the shelves next month. Do not leave the bookstore without purchasing yourself a copy.DO - come here once you have read it and share your reaction and impression with me. I cannot wait to hear what you think!

  • James Gash
    2019-01-29 01:48

    This is basically a story of a weak character, who bungles the most important moments in his life, either by misunderstanding them, or getting drunk in anticipation of them, or by letting others dominate them.When his mother makes her final pilgrimage to her homeland, terminally sick and with business of her own, he chases after her with his own problems and need for attention. Everything, after all, is only about him. And he is quite the Lost Boy.I read and totally enjoyed Petterson's OUT STEALING HORSES. But weak characters, however succinctly portrayed, make for weak books. And this book is dominated by an emotional and perceptual clutz. It is telling that the highlight of the story is the point where the main character's mother reaches across the table to slap his face. I salute her.

  • Argos
    2019-02-12 03:41

    Önceki iki romanı gibi çok sardı bu romanı da, Per Peterson geleceğin Nobel adayı bence.

  • Inga Pizāne
    2019-02-12 09:46

    Man patika, taču tik lielā sajūsmā kā par šī paša autora romānu "Prom ārā zirgus zagt" nebiju. Šis darbs likās sadrumstalotāks, izkaisītāks. Sākums un beigu daļa uzrunāja, bet pa vidu nelasījās tik labi, ķēros un klupu, nebija plūsmas un vienojošas sajūtas starp tekstu. Valoda gan joprojām bija ļoti skaista, taču par to vien negribas palielināt zvaigžņu skaitu. Ne šoreiz.

  • Rick
    2019-01-26 05:03

    Petterson first became noticed in the U.S. a few years ago with Out Stealing Horses. That novel won prizes and admiring reviews and recommendations from writers around the world. This is now my fourth novel of his—all that have found their way to the states thus far—and with it he has joined that short list of writers who when they publish I buy—no need to wait for reviews. Arvid Jansen is the protagonist of I Curse the River of Time. He was also the protagonist of In the Wake. In the earlier novel Arvid was 43, struggling to rise from the bottom of a sea of Jobian troubles (stalled writing career, divorce and the tragic loss of his parents and two adult brothers in a ferry accident—a fictional version of true disaster that did indeed claim the lives of Petterson’s immediate family). In I Curse the River of Time, Arvid is only 37, wrestling with more routine issues—the great disaster still ahead of him and unforeseeable. He is not yet a writer but a failed Communist who had quit college to become a member of the proletariat and a soldier in the revolution. He took a job in the factory where his father worked for decades and suffered an estrangement from his mother, another factory worker, for dashing her dreams of a better life for her son. They share a passion for literature, alcohol, and disappointment, each in the other. The novel’s present is 1989. Astrid’s mother has been diagnosed with cancer and gone off to her native Denmark to collect herself. The Berlin Wall has come down and Communism, which Arvid had grown disaffected with, is in ruins. His marriage is failing. Flashbacks, expertly interwoven, take the reader back to Arvid’s childhood, to his days of rebellion—Mao is a hero and the book’s title comes from a poem of his, and Arvid’s days of courtship. When his mother takes the ferry to Denmark, Arvid follows her to the family’s summer home, though it’s not clear whether he is seeking to comfort her or to be comforted by her. Petterson is a master of the interior workings and the external signatures of relationships—the subverting comment, the missed moment, the almost stated truth. His prose is austere but telling, his ability to frame a scene with details of place, of mood, of raw emotion is uncannily right. Like Hemingway at his best, you always know more than is described. “‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ I said, but she raised her hand and said: ‘If anything needs doing, I’ll do it myself. Get out of my way,’ she said and pushed me in the chest. ‘But, Mother,’ I said, ‘why won’t you let me do something for you? I want to.’ ‘Well, that seems reasonable,’ she said, ‘but it’s not going to happen. And we’ll say no more about it.’” If ever a book was destined to be anti-climatic—the foreshadowing ferry rides, the reader’s knowledge that it won’t be cancer that claims the mother, or that Arvid has no idea what is shortly to come—it is I Curse the River of Time, but Petterson manages to engross us in this predecessor story fully despite all that we know is coming. His sense of human vulnerability, resilience, need for connection and essential isolation is omnipresent and the siftings of a confined narrative limned with tragedy, comedy, and compassion make for compelling reading. Petterson is one of a handful of masters of contemporary world literature.

  • Ema
    2019-02-10 05:39

    Înainte de a începe lectura, aflasem doar că este o poveste tristă și că Per Petterson are un stil personal de a scrie. Am pătruns destul de greu în atmosfera romanului pe care l-am citit în engleză (la început, pare că nu se întâmplă mai nimic), ba, la un moment dat, chiar am fost tentată să-l abandonez și să caut traducerea în limba română. Am perseverat, totuși, iar povestea m-a învăluit în cele din urmă cu izul ei melancolic, cu miros de ploaie de sfârșit de toamnă. Într-adevăr, Per Petterson are un stil aparte de a scrie - simplu și totuși dens, cu fraze lungi care mi-au amintit un pic de Javier Marías, fără a avea, însă, încărcătura greoaie a celui din urmă. Iar povestea, deși în esență tristă, nu este una apăsătoare sau deprimantă: cumva, scriitorul reușește să își transporte cititorul nu într-un tărâm al amărăciunii, ci într-unul al gândurilor și al senzațiilor, molipsindu-l cu starea lui contemplativă. Câteodată, autorul strecoară și câteva momente pline de umor, care detensionează atmosfera.”Blestem curgerea timpului” este o poveste care mai mult se simte, iar eventualele spoilere nu pot dezvălui nimic din senzația pe care ți-o lasă acest roman. Mi-a plăcut că lucrurile nu sunt spuse în întregime, că nu există rezolvări - deși finaluri sunt destule. Per Petterson ne conduce, cu frazele lui minuțioase, prin toate aceste tuburi și capilare care alcătuiesc povestea, însă niciodată până la capăt, căci ne întoarce mereu la matcă, la marele fluviu ce străbate viața personajului său. Se poate spune că Arvid Jensen a înaintat mereu împotriva curentului, încercând să ajungă pe malul unde se află mama, separată de el și de tată prin personalitatea ei diferită și o independență câștigată în timp. Arvid este al doilea din cei patru băieți ai unei familii din clasa muncitoare; el este singurul dorit și planificat, dar asta nu îl face să se simtă cu adevărat iubit. Este nesigur de locul lui în familie și de dragostea mamei, care nu-l cunoaște cu adevărat. Îl respinge și îl desconsideră pe tată (deși este singurul copil care îi seamănă), dar o adoră pe mamă, de care se simte separat de un întreg fluviu de diferențe și cuvinte nerostite la momentul oportun. Mama este cea care i-a pus în brațe cărțile potrivite la fiecare vârstă, cea de care Arvid s-a agățat încă din copilărie, cea la care se gândește în fiecare zi, ca la o iubire neîmplinită și fără sorți de izbândă. În tinerețe, când ar fi putut depăși statutul social al familiei, Arvid a ales un alt drum care a dezamăgit-o pe mamă. Aflat acum în pragul divorțului, purtând cu el amintiri dintr-o viață mai fericită, Arvid pleacă în Danemarca pe urmele mamei atinse de o boală gravă.Dacă aveți chef de citit mai mult decât atât, varianta lungă se află pe blog:

  • Melissa
    2019-01-29 09:51

    I wasn't sure if I was going to write a review of this one, because ... well, it really wasn't the book for me. I Curse the River of Time is the story of 37 year old Arvid Jansen, who is going through a divorce and whose mother has been diagnosed with cancer. After coming from the doctor and receiving her diagnosis, she abruptly leaves the family home in Oslo and boards a ferry for her native Denmark. She's headed for the family's summer house on the coast and Arvid decides to follow her. Arvid and his mother have a bit of an estranged relationship. He left behind his college education (which his mother had worked hard to provide for him) in order to work in a factory and to uphold the principles of Communism, of which Arvid was a supporter. (Much of the story takes place in 1989.) The story is told from Arvid's perspective. It's one where he is reflecting on his life and the decisions made, and in so doing, I Curse the River of Time becomes a rambling sort of story. (I seem to be in a pattern of choosing non-linear, reflecting on one's life types of books lately, which generally is fine with me ... when they work well.) But in this case, I just found myself bored and impatient. This came really close to being a DNF for me, but I was listening on audio and had gotten further in the story than I expected after one of my drives, so I decided to continue. Even though I felt a little sympathy for him (we can all relate to experiencing regret and wishing back time gone by), I didn't much like Arvid and I kind of wanted him out of my car sooner rather than later. Ultimately, this book left me sad (and freezing, because Arvil seems to be constantly cold - and complaining about such - and there are lots of descriptions of the weather in Norway and Denmark being rather chilly too). In perusing other reviews, I noticed that several people said this is a very different book than Petterson's Out Stealing Horses. Even though I was disappointed I Curse the River of Time, I'll probably give Petterson another chance with another one of his works.

  • Ida Jackson
    2019-02-11 05:53

    Jeg ble så glad når det dukket opp en referanse til Faulkner i midten av denne romanen, fordi jeg tenkte på Faulkner hele veien mens jeg leste. Aha, tenkte jeg, vi har en skrivehelt til felles, Per Petterson. Dette var min første Petterson-roman. Jeg har holdt meg unna altfor lenge. De har virket macho og traurige, ensomme menn som røyker sigaretter og mimrer om AKP. Og ja, denne romanen handler om en ensom mann som røyker en god del, og han mimrer en god del om AKP. Men den er så forbasket godt skrevet. Det er en fullkommen liten roman om tap og tid som går, og hver eneste setning synger. Den handler om relasjonen hans til moren og hvordan han ble sammen med hun som nå er i ferd med å skille seg fra ham. Begge relasjonene er fantastisk skildret. Du leser ikke om en fyr som prøver å komme nærmere moren sin. Du sitter plutselig ved et kjøkkenbord med en litt skitten voksduk i et rom der det røykes inne og spiser kaffe og napoleonskake sammen med en dame som både er barskere, sterkere og sintere enn deg, din sprett.

  • Anetq
    2019-02-08 07:57

    Cursing the river of time may be what you want to do, but it's not of much use. Time will pass anyway; Life, death, divorce, avoided memories and maybe a wasted life? Time is certainly turning for Arvid: His marriage, his mother and his ideology is dying (And he gave up getting an education and possibly lost his family to the latter). And still most of it is unsaid and the heavy weight of the unspoken lies over the (lack of) relationship.This would be a great setup for tragicomedy, but it stays in the very tragic in the tradition of Strindberg, Bergman and Ibsen - but then it is a Nordic Council Literature Prize winner!

  • Sevgi K.
    2019-01-31 09:58

    2014 yılının son günlerinde aldığım kitabı ailemden izler taşıdığı için yarım bırakmıştım. Çünkü Arvid'e kendine gel zaman akıp gidiyor diyemiyordum bunun için de kızgındım ya da romanı tekrar baştan yazamıyordum. Bu Per Petterson'un hikayesiydi çünkü ve ben de kendi hikayemdeki insana duyurmalıydım sesimi. Bugün ise yarım bıraktığım yerden devam ettim okumaya, Arvid'e de O insana da hiç kızgın değildim, bir şeyler değişmiş yerli yerine oturmuş sanki. Yine de Arvid'in "Yatağın üzerine oturup pencereden limana baktım ve düşünülmesi gereken şeyleri düşündüm. Pek iyi geldiğini söyleyemem." derken ki huzursuzluğum ve çaresizliğim yerli yerinde.

  • Renee
    2019-02-05 04:02

    This book was described as "underwhelming" by a few reviewers compared to Out Stealing Horses (which I will definitely read). I didn't find anything underwhelming about this book. It is a beautifully written book (translated) about the very complex relationship between a mother and son. There were so many heart breaking passages, where Arvid (the son) gives his mother the perfect chance to validate his existence, but she just drops the ball. Finally, I would describe this as a sparse book, with no outward answers, only questions, but many of us understand the very place the author is writing from.I would add a half star if they were available on goodreads and recommend this book.

  • Aaron (Typographical Era)
    2019-02-19 06:00

    *I received a promotional copy of I Curse the River of Time via the GoodReads FirstReads program*I Curse the River of Time is a frustratingly brilliant novel, filled with sparse, yet elegant prose that suffers from the lack of proper linear narrative yet somehow manages to drag the reader along on an impressively depressing ride of joy.Does that even make sense? Perhaps not, but it doesn’t make any less true.READ MORE:

  • Larissa
    2019-02-13 04:03

    Review here:

  • Ana
    2019-02-13 05:03

    How on God's green earth is it possible to ruin a fantastic title like that with such subpar writing? I'm sad.

  • Monica Carter
    2019-02-13 04:57

    If I walk from the college at the corner an down Goteborggata, which I often did, I soon reached the Freia chocolate factory. My mother worked there. She stood at the assembly line in Confectionery eight hours a day, five days a week, plus overtime and had done so for many years. All over Daelenenga and Rodelokka there was the smell of chocolate, of cocoa, in the mornings especially, when the air was sharp and a little damp maybe, and it was only when I had been out drinking too many pints the night before that I found the smell unpleasant. Otherwise there was a feeling of comfort about it that brought back to me certain days in my childhood, with certain faces attached and family gatherings with tables laid and tablecloths and the slanting sun through the gleaming white blinds and then me, in the middle of it all with this sudden feeling that everything around me was so fine, so perfect. Sometimes, in the late nights, in my small flat at Carl Berners Plass, in Daelenenga, I allowed that feeling to well up from the past, and then I would long for my childhood with such teeth grinding intensity that I almost frightened myself.Per Petterson's I Curse the River of Time is the most moving for me out of all twenty-five titles on the longlist. It is a stunning and quiet novel that examines the relationship between a dying mother and her son. Mr. Petterson is in no need of publicity or of people regaling his talents, but he is one of the few authors where I find it warranted especially when he is able to achieve such depth in such a slim book. Due to the superb translation by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson, we are able to enjoy his flawless prose and accomplished execution of the novel as an art form. His style is minimal, almost surgical, tracing around the essence of a sentence to extract its purest form. Although this novel feels incredibly Norwegian with its existential search for meaning in a mostly lonely life, there is a plaintive, tender undertone that belies the Scandinavian frigidity and give us heartbreaking moments of loss.With a subtle first person narrative, Petterson tells us of Arvid, a thirty-seven year old father of two little girls who is about to lose his wife because of divorce and his mother because of stomach cancer. It is set during the fall of Communism, 1989. Everything around him that was once a structure is falling away, piece by piece. The things he built for himself and the structures he had no choice but to participate in crumble with no promise of reparations: their destruction is an end. The most devastating for Arvid is the loss of his mother and the loss of a relationship that never worked the way he wanted it to work. He was one of her sons, but the one she understood the least. Arvid is difficult to understand because he does have an ethereal presence as if being to close to what is going on in his own world and the world around him is too painful up close. He floats above it never wanting to anchor himself in reality. He keeps a distance and only when forced with losing someone or something, does he examine where it went wrong. He tries to figure where the first fissure happened, when the first crack appeared. Petterson swims in out of present day and the past, which are reminiscences of Arvid's relationship with his mother, his wife and his political involvement. Arvid wonders about his detachment, his life one removed, when he likens himself to Mao: The picture of Mao I had was the well-known retouched photograph where he sits hunched over his desk writing with one of the Chinese brush pens, and I always thought, or hoped, that it was not one of his political or philosophical articles he was writing, but one of his poems, perhaps the one which begins: Fragile images of departure, the village back then. I curse the rive of time; thirty-two years have passed. for it showed the human Mao, someone I was drawn to, someone who had felt how time was battling his body, as I had felt is so often myself; how time without warning could catch up with me and run beneath my skin like tiny electric shocks and I could not stop them, no matter how much I tried. And when they let up at last and everything fell quiet, I was already a different person than I had been before, and it sometimes made me despair.He soon realizes that time is also gone along with the love of his wife and the moments with his mother. In an attempt to reach her, to understand her and him before she passes, he joins her in a small seaside town in the North Jutland region of Denmark where she grew up. It is not an easy time for either of them and there are no dramatic scenes with tears and yelling, but a slow realization that the space between understanding and misunderstanding can be filled love. She knows him better than he knows himself and yet he wants to tell her there are parts of him she doesn't know. He thinks that her disapproval of him began when he abandoned school for a working class life, eradicating an hopes she had of him pursuing literature as a professional career path. On principle, Arvid chose to work in a factory like his mother and this becomes a contention point that reappears throughout their adult relationship. Though, literature is a common ground that they can both stand upon when all other channels of communication seem to be cut off: 'What have you got there?' she said, pointing to the half-buried bottle between my feet. 'Calvados,' I said. 'Calvados,' she said, and then she nodded a little sleepily. 'Arch of Triumph, then?' 'Yes,' I said. 'Arch of Triumph.' She nodded again, a little distant still, a little heavy: 'It's a fine book,' she said. 'A little sentimental, perhaps. You'd best be under twenty when you read it for the first time.' 'I guess you're right,' I said.Arvid is a lonely, complacent man who wants to be love for who he is who, at times, doesn't know who he is or that he has changed. He yearns to stay in the warm glow of nostalgia and has difficulty reckoning the changes around him. It is not that Petterson draws Arvid as a man who is more insightful or sensitive than most, but that he draws him as an ordinary man who is trying to deal with the pain of loss. This is what is so touching. We know he is vulnerable and we know that his mother knows he is vulnerable. We all know what is to lose. Like Arvid, its process of acknowledging that no matter what we could have done, loss is inevitable. Petterson makes us understand that through loss, the past is full of memories that are sweet and torturous and it is up to us to understand that the present will soon be those memories.