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The Library of Babel

A Spin-off of http://bookwormshead.blogspot.co.uk

Buzz Aldrin, waar ben je gebleven ? / druk 1

Buzz Aldrin, waar ben je gebleven? - Johan Harstad What I like and dislike at the same time in modern Norwegian literature is the straight and essential style used by young novelists such as Erlend Loe and Frode Grytten. It's a kind of writing that is a thousand miles away from most of the Italian literature I like.

Where Italian authors try to be impressive at any rate using a rich style and many cultural influences even in referring to extreme situations, Norwegian novelists don't seem to care. I mean, they simply put themselves in the shoes of a character without any need to investigate that much on everything else.

Short sentences. Self-humour. Undramatic introspection. Music and television as a source of inspiration for absurd reflections. And a kind of perpetual Peter Pan syndrome lived by the main characters. These are the ingredients of the "Modern Norwegian Literature Recipe".
Johan Harstad doesn't make any exception. Mattias, the protagonist and narrator of "Buzz Aldrin" could easily be the elder brother of Loe's "Naiv Super". The two characters share an enchanted and melancholic way of looking around, keep on reminiscing their childhood and live in their own world made of subtle reflections in unexpected moments and speechless situations. They are both romantic and anacronistic fellows.

Yet, whereas Loe insists too much in using a childish way of behaving for his Naiv Super guy, Harstad aims to give to his fragile Mattias a deeper personality. Besides, the young Stavanger-born author has the brilliant idea of setting his novel in an out-of-time place like the Faer Oer islands. An interesting choice, indeed that is particularly fascinating for a non Scandinavian audience who has a vague picture of this tiny archipelagus with no trees at all and punctuated by sheeps.
There Mattias loses his way and then tries to put himself together.

As for the modern Norwegian literature, what I miss more is a feminine point of view on the same topics of isolation and personal reconstruction. Harstad does something, but not enough on this side, writing on one of the characters of Buzz Aldrin. And yet, I am sure he will surprise me pretty soon with something better.