Translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson
The backstory: I Curse the River of Time was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
The basics: With his wife divorcing him and his mother being diagnosed with cancer, Avrid decides to follow his mother from Oslo to her home country of Denmark, where she has not lived for forty years. On the ferry ride, he remembers the choices he's made during life and the paths he's been on.
My thoughts: I Curse the River of Time was a book that started quite strongly for me. I enjoyed the narrative voice immensely. The prose had a curtness to it I liked. Avrid is unapologetic and his narration reinforced it to the reader. Initially, I was enchanted by the theme of home in this novel. With Avrid facing divorce and his mother dealing with cancer, both undertook geographical change. The very nature of home and its comfort was confronted.
Despite a strong start, this novel fizzled for me as Avrid's past took center stage. I was so much more interested in the present and future, and I enjoyed the mystery of his past. He was a scarred man, and for me, the possibilities of his past were more engaging than the realities. When I stopped caring about the characters, Petterson's choppy writing became a bit grating as well.
Favorite passage: "I cannot imagine she craved company in the cafeteria on board the Holger Danske and approached a table to engage in conversation, to find out what their thoughts were and what their dreams, for they were of her kind and had the same background, or the opposite, because they were different too, and it is in the way we differ that you find what is interesting."
The verdict: Ultimately, a strong start and a disappointing trajectory made this a forgettable read for me.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Length: 233 pages
Publication date: August 3, 2010 (the paperback comes out August 2, 2011)
Source: my local public library
Now tell me, should I give Per Petterson another chance? Have you loved any of his novels?
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