Always found To Siberia a demanding read.
Per Petterson is nevertheless interesting also because of his unusually
well-informed perspective on literature and literary theory, despite not
having been formally trained. He worked as a clerk in a well-known
"leftist" bookstore in Oslo for a number of years while honing his craft,
Tronsmo. It's quite an institution by now, known among other things for
being probably the first bookstore in Norway to take comics seriously as
works of art. These days that has become quite a common-place, even in
higher education. Don't know if Petterson had a hand in this, but it
wouldn't be surprising if he did!
In one of his short and very readable essays in the collection The Moon
over the Gate he writed about how he as a young, radicalised lad walked
around the neighbourhood in Veitvet, the suburb wherr he lived outside
Oslo, with a friend to sell the "born-again" Maoist rag Klassekampen.
There, on his trail, he meets Kjell Askildsen, who by then was an
established author, and among the founders of the precursor to the Maoist
party in Norway. Petterson clearly was an admirer of Askildsen, but it's
interesting to note how the master's acclaimed minimalism is transmuted
into something quite different iinPetterson's prose, and this difference is
also what distinguishes him from another inheritor of Askildsen, the
"maximalist" Karl Ove Knausgård.
The essay, of two short pages, is called "Fast fjell, Kjell", impossible to
translate, but the sense is something like Solid ground, Kjell [Askildsen].
Read on, and stay in touch.
All the best,
tir. 3. mai 2022, 04:07 skrev Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>:
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."
Take care, and carry on posting.