Friday, January 7, 2011

Review: I Curse the River of Time

This was the first book I have read by Per Petterson.  It was a quiet, moody novel with little dialogue and a lot of gray sky.  Ironically, East of Eden is highlighted as one of a few works on one of the main character's bookshelf.  I can't say I sympathized with the protagonist, Arvid. a 37-year old soon to be divorced man who hopes to reconcile with his dying mother.  The book takes place in Norway in 1989.  Unlike the honorable men in Steinbeck's classic, Arvid can at times barely walk across the room without falling to his knees in sadness and he forgets gloves in sub-zero weather.  He can hardly take care of himself.  While Petterson writes some great passages in simple language and creates a starkly atmospheric backdrop, I didn't feel any emotional connection to the characters.  There were a few sentences and passages I re-read, as they were very well-crafted, perhaps my favorite being the phrase, " head filled with shapeless, wild thoughts."  And yet, sometimes we want our protagonist to shape those thoughts into something palpable, so that we can reach in and feel what he is feeling.  On the continuum, this would be about a 7.5 out of 10.

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