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Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller
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Norwegian by Night (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Derek Miller

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2122155,047 (4.04)16
Member:petergw
Title:Norwegian by Night
Authors:Derek Miller
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Rating:****1/2
Tags:Fiction

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Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller (2012)

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    Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg (charl08)
    charl08: Thoughtful crime in Scandinavia
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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
The main character of this delightful book is a marvelous creation. Cranky, opinionated, and remorseful, 82-year-old Sheldon Horowitz is also insightful and funny. Part of the wonder of this book is the way that Miller was able to weave imaginary conversations with people long-dead with issues arising from geopolitical conflicts to create a story full of marvelous descriptions, humor, and a strong narrative drive. ( )
1 vote eapalmer | Aug 3, 2014 |
I finished this novel yesterday (06/29/2014) and I loved it. Miller takes us into the mind of 82 year old Sheldon Horowitz, who was a Marine sniper in Korea and whose only child was killed in Vietnam. Sheldon blames himself for the loss of his son, and after the death of his wife, Sheldon comes to live with his grand daughter and her husband in Oslo. When a neighbor woman is murdered, Sheldon escapes with the woman's young son in an effort to save the boy. There are funny moments here, especially in the characters of the Oslo police, and moments of grace and wit to go with the inevitable fight scenes. The jacket blurbs claim that the book transcends its genre, and those blurbs are right.
1 vote vmortimer | Jun 30, 2014 |
Norwegian By Night is the story of a man, a man with a secret. At 82, Sheldon Horowitz has just buried his wife Mabel. His granddaughter, Rhea, has asked him to move to Norway to live with her and her husband, Lars. She doesn’t want him to be alone. Her grandmother has told her that he has the beginnings of dementia and she is concerned. He has no one left in New York, so finally, she convinces him to move with her to Oslo. Moving someone with dementia can be devastating. If a person’s surroundings are even more unfamiliar they can be seriously challenged, but Sheldon seems to be adjusting. He doesn’t go anyplace alone; he doesn’t speak the language so it would be difficult to go out, anyway.
Sheldon’s only son, Saul, was killed in Viet Nam. Afterwards, he dreams of him and starts to talk about the days when he, himself, was a marine, a sniper, even calling out a man’s name in his sleep. His wife is put out. After all, he has always told her that when he was in service, he had a job as a clerk, a desk job. This is what leads her to believe he is losing it. Sheldon meanders between reality and fantasy, at times, but never madness or confusion. He has logical explanations for everything he does, although sometimes his explanations rattle those around him.
In Norway, he lives in an apartment adjacent to Rhea and Lars. Upstairs, the neighbors are always quarreling loudly, in a language he does not understand. One day, a woman appears outside his door and is in need of help. When he opens up the door, he sees it is the woman from upstairs and she also has a little boy with her. He allows her to come in and escape the wrath of the man she is living with, and the story sprouts wings.
Senka, the boy’s mother, is a Serb. In her country, her family was brutally killed by Kosovars who were extracting revenge for the deeds of the Serbs who murdered their families and friends. They do not care that the war is over. Brutally raped, Senka becomes pregnant, and the little boy with her is the product of that encounter. The man who raped her, Enver, is from Kosovo. He traced her to Oslo when he found out that he was a father, and he traveled there to capture his son and return with him to Kosovo.
Now, getting back to Sheldon’s story; he has long believed that the Koreans may be looking for him to exact revenge for those he killed when he was a sniper during that war. Though this may defy reality a bit, in fact, after he rescues the child and his mother, he does wind up being pursued by some pretty unsavory characters, although they were definitely not Koreans! As he flees with the child, whom he names Paul, as a tribute to his son, his thoughts travel between his past and the present time, recalling tactics he was taught in military training that will help them both survive. He remembers WWII, a war he was too young to fight in and thinks about Korea, the war he personally witnessed. Then he thinks about Vietnam where his son lost his life.
Sheldon is filled with guilt. He thinks of his war time experiences and remembers his personal responsibility for some of the pain; he blames himself for causing things that were beyond his control, random accidents of fate, sometimes. He thinks about his son and his son’s service to the country and blames himself for his enlistment. He accepts his own weaknesses as the cause of most of the failures in his life. Sheldon’s thoughts are so basic and so simple, that, at times, the reader will have to laugh out loud, even though the prior thought might have provoked a deeper emotion and thought, in contradiction to that “funny” feeling.
The story really opens up a dialogue on aging as well as bigotry. It suggests many questions to the reader. Why would Norway allow wanted men into the country because they seek sanctuary? Have they become too liberal in their behavior, saving the victimizer to attack the victim again? Which of Sheldon’s and/or Donny’s memories are real and which are made up to salve his conscience? Does Sheldon have dementia or are his explanations for his behavior plausible?
The book is hard to put down. It draws the reader in, as Sheldon, an octogenarian, draws on his military background and memory to become somewhat of a hero. The mystery is told in three parts in which Sheldon reminisces about the past and the major events that have colored his attitudes about life. The reader will discover that evil begets evil, hate begets more violence, revenge invites vengeance and war invites serious retaliation into the future. There is no easy answer for the prejudices and the anger someone harbors in their heart and mind.
I liked the book, but I thought some of the coincidences required the suspension of disbelief. Also, there are some unanswered questions. How did Senka get the information she hid away? How did Enver find out about it? Why didn’t the police put a surveillance detail on Rhea and Lars?
Regardless of the inconclusive moments, still, the book was exciting, and I stayed up half the night to finish it! The author juxtaposed tongue in cheek humor opposite gruesome scenes and it worked so well that it was really easy to read. Sheldon’s philosophical ideas about aging and behavior are really thought provoking and worthy of discussion. ( )
1 vote thewanderingjew | Mar 27, 2014 |
Sheldon is an arm's length from his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, who is just now taking a long pull on his own beer and is looking so cheerful, so kind, so peppy, that Sheldon wants to take the hot dog from his hand and insert it up his nose. Rhea, who looks oddly pale today, would not respond well to this, and it might condemn Sheldon to further socializing excursions ("so you can adjust"), and in a world filled with fairness Sheldon would not deserve them—nor Lars the hot-dog maneuver. but it had been Rhea's idea to move them from New York to Norway, and Sheldon—widowed old, impatient, impertinent—saw in Lars's countenance a suppressed desire to gloat.

None of which was fair.


This book was an absolute delete to read, filled with quirky, lovable characters and a plot that kept me turning pages late into the night. Sheldon Horowitz is a Korean War veteran who is haunted by memories of the war and the role he played in encouraging his son to fight in the Vietnam War, where his son was killed. Rhea, however, wonders how much of his angst is real and how much is fueled by the onset of dementia. When Sheldon witnesses domestic violence, he impulsively offers succor to a young boy, setting off a chain of events that involves a murder, Balkan paramilitary violence, and a slightly concussed female police chief. Fast paced, humorous, and filled with loving relationships slightly off-kilter, I loved this story by debut novelist, Derek Miller. ( )
2 vote labfs39 | Feb 5, 2014 |
I chose this novel because it appeared on the Best List of 2013 in the UK's Guardian newspaper. No need to reiterate the story as it is reviewed by others. Sheldon is a complex 82 year old using all his life experiences to save a small boy who is being pursued by some very unpleasant people. The author tells the story pretty much through Sheldon's thoughts. He has a slight case of dementia so sometimes things are a bit fuzzy for him but he is determined to do what is necessary to keep this boy safe. Sheldon is a crusty, old but caring guy who has had a good deal of life's experiences thrown his way. He seems to be steely on the outside but has a very good handle on life and his place in it. He is a loyal, loving guy with alot of life's guilt regarding his choices. The author does a good job of making you laugh when he thinks he is conversing with his dead friends for advice, and then putting you on edge when the "bad" people show up and yes the end will make you cry but also glad you had the chance to spend a few days with Sheldon Horowitz! Good read. ( )
1 vote kmmt48 | Jan 27, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Derek Millerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Larsstuvold, RuneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roth, OlafÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547934874, Hardcover)

A literary novel, a police thriller, and the funniest book about war crimes and dementia you are likely to read anytime soon.
 
 
Sheldon Horowitz—widowed, old, impatient, impertinent has grudgingly agreed to move in with his granddaughter Rhea and her new husband Lars in Norway: a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, and not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean war turned watch repairman, who failed his only son by sending him to Vietnam to die. Not until now, anyway.

Home alone one morning in unfamiliar Oslo, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the Balkan woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes the neighbor's young son to shield him from the violence, and the two flee the scene. But old age and circumstances are altering Sheldon's experience of time and memory. As he and the boy attempt to make their way to safety, Sheldon becomes haunted by dreams of his son Saul's life and guilt about his death. In looking for a safe haven in an alien world, reality and fantasy, past and present, weave together, forcing Sheldon and the boy ever-forward to a dramatic climax.

Norwegian by Night introduces an ensemble of unforgettable characters—Sheldon and the boy, Rhea and Lars, a Balkan war criminal named Enver, and Sigrid and Petter, the brilliantly dry-witted investigating officers—as they chase each other, and their own demons, through the wilderness at the end of the world.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:39 -0400)

After witnessing a murder in Olso, elderly former Marine sniper and watch repairman, Sheldon Horrowitz, flees to safety with the newly orphaned son of the victim and becomes haunted by memories of his own son who died in Vietnam.

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