[lit-ideas] Re: Petterson in The New Yorker

  • From: Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 2 May 2022 19:07:14 -0700


Thanks for the article.  I wasn't subscribed, I don't believe, to /The New Yorker/ that long ago but being a current subscriber I probably have access to its archives.  I do for some of the other publications  I pay $10 extra for access to the TLS archive.  I've never used it, but for $10 I think I one day might.

After ///I Curse the River//Time/ and /Out Stealing Horses/, I began /To Siberia/, but wanting a better understanding of the topographical references, I ordered a map on Amazon.  The package that was supposed to contain the map appeared on my porch, but the package was slit and the map gone. I assumed the package was slit before or during delivery.  I searched on Amazon for some way to complain and have them send me a replacement, but Amazon showed my map delivered and as evidence produced a photo of the package with the slit clearly visible.  I couldn't say the package was never delivered and I refused to pay to return the empty package; so I waited a few weeks, tied again and this time received the requested map, but by then I was off onto something else.   I've often wondered what the thief hoped to find in my package and what his thoughts were after discovering a map of Siberia.


On 5/2/2022 10:31 AM, Torgeir Fjeld wrote:

This list featured a discussion about the merits of novelist Per Petterson, or his novels, rather. As it turns out Harvard professor and literary critic James Wood wrote about Petterson's I Curse the River of Time in The New Yorker a while back. It is a good review not so much for its praise of Petterson as for Wood's perceptive and insightful detail. Among the passages from the book he dissects is this:

"We said to each other, my mother and I, wouldn’t it be great one day to taste this liquor; a liquid that for me turned into the true magic potion, a golden nectar flowing through Remarque’s novel and on in multiple streams, acquiring a strange, powerful significance, and that, of course, because it was unobtainable, because they only sold one single brand at the state monopoly and it was way beyond my means. But in /Arch of Triumph/ they were forever ordering Calvados, Boris and Ravic, the two friends in the book who were refugees from Stalin and Hitler respectively, in Paris in the years before the German occupation, and it was Armageddon then, on all fronts, both back and forth in time, and the conversations they had about life left the same bitter taste in my mouth as singing the hymn, which goes: /Thank you for memories, thank you for hope, thank you Oh Lord for the bitter gift of pain/, which in fact I did at a funeral not long ago. Sing that hymn."

Read on:


Take care, and carry on posting.

Torgeir Fjeld


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