Tuesday, July 20, 2010
One must be patient with a Petterson book; one is rewarded, deeply, for one's patience. One must accept the fugue state that the author visits upon his readers. We are in places we don't recognize, but we know them. We are among strangers, yet we live inside their heads. We regret just as deeply, we crawl just as lowly, we hope more than we can should: Where are we?
In I Curse the River of Time, due out shortly from Graywolf Press, Petterson gives us a 37-year-man on the verge of divorce and on the verge of losing the mother he disregarded in his past (she had offered a way out of his working-class heritage; he threw it back in his face; can they recover?). I say 37-year-old man, but Avrid is boy-like, in so many ways—heartbroken for himself and, when he de-shrouds himself long enough to escape his own self pity, heartbroken for his mother. He has followed his mother to a place where she has gone for peace. He is haunted by memories; he's often drunk. He needs caring for, but he must prove that he has the capacity for caring deep within himself. It is 1989, and all across Europe, things fall apart.
The sentences are long and particulate in River. They are also embellished and soft, tumbled together. Some give directions (past the quay, down the street, around the corner, up the stairs). Some ask. Some want ("... and you suddenly realize that every chance of being the person you really wanted to be, is gone for ever, and the one you were, is the one those around you will remember."). All of them crash and hum together, leaving the reader (this reader, at least) somehow intensified.
Thank you, Erin, for sending me a copy.