Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review (Audio): I Curse the River of Time, by Per Petterson

I Curse the River of Time
by Per Petterson
Graywolf Press
2008, translated by Charlotte Barslund

Audio: 5 CD, 6 hours
Narrated by Jefferson May

I wasn't sure if I was going to write a review of this one, because ... well, it really wasn't the book for me. 

I Curse the River of Time is the story of 37 year old Arvid Jansen, who is going through a divorce and whose mother has been diagnosed with cancer.  After coming from the doctor and receiving her diagnosis, she abruptly leaves the family home in Oslo and boards a ferry for her native Denmark.  She's headed for the family's summer house on the coast and Arvid decides to follow her. 

Arvid and his mother have a bit of an estranged relationship.  He left behind his college education (which his mother had worked hard to provide for him) in order to work in a factory and to uphold the principles of Communism, of which Arvid was a supporter.  (Much of the story takes place in 1989.)

The story is told from Arvid's perspective. It's one where he is reflecting on his life and the decisions made, and in so doing, I Curse the River of Time becomes a rambling sort of story.  (I seem to be in a pattern of choosing non-linear, reflecting on one's life types of books lately, which generally is fine with me ... when they work well.)  But in this case, I just found myself bored and impatient. This came really close to being a DNF for me, but I was listening on audio and had gotten further in the story than I expected after one of my drives, so I decided to continue.  Even though I felt a little sympathy for him (we can all relate to experiencing regret and wishing back time gone by), I didn't much like Arvid and I kind of wanted him out of my car sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, this book left me sad (and freezing, because Arvil seems to be constantly cold - and complaining about such - and there are lots of descriptions of the weather in Norway and Denmark being rather chilly too).

In perusing other reviews, I noticed that several people said this is a very different book than Petterson's Out Stealing Horses.  Even though I was disappointed I Curse the River of Time, I'll probably give Petterson another chance with another one of his works.   

I read this for the New Authors and Nordic challenges.

What Other Bloggers Thought

Beth Kephart Books
Caribou's Mom
Largehearted Boy
Necromancy Never Pays (who has the best line with "I curse the time I spent getting to know him [meaning Arvid]." 
The Reading Ape

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1 comment:

nomadreader said...

I wasn't a big fan of this one either, and my review post got several comments still recommending other Petterson. I want to try him again too.