Wednesday 18 February 2015

I Curse the River of Time

Finished February 16
I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson

This novel is in 1989. The barriers are falling between Eastern and Western Europe, and Arvid Jansen, in his late thirties is in the early stages of a divorce. His mother has just been diagnosed with stomach cancer and has gone back to the land of her youth, Jutland in Denmark, before facing treatment. Arvid chases after her, looking to reconnect with the mother he once had a special relationship with, but has lost over the years.
The story takes place over only a few days, but Arvid's recollections keep taking him into the past. As a child, he was differentiated from his siblings by his physical appearance, looking more like his father than any of his brothers. As a young man with a promising university degree ahead of him, he chose a different route that estranged him from his mother. His idealogical loyalty to the working class led him to reject the opportunities his parents' hard work offered him. The relationship he began shortly after this is a problematic one right from the start.
Arvid is a young man struggling with his life, still looking for approval from the parent he feels closer to, but not showing the maturity that would gain him the approval he wants.
A difficult book, with lots of emotion, but also lots of compassion for human weakness. The relationship between this mother and son is a complex one still.

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