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Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors
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Mirror, Shoulder, Signal

by Dorthe Nors

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» See also 18 mentions

English (4)  Danish (2)  All languages (6)
Showing 4 of 4
I found this book to be very sad. Sonja translates the books of an author from Swedish into Danish. She is middle age and lives somewhat reclusively in Copenhagen while her sister and parents live in Denmark. The premise of the book is that of obtaining her driver's license (Mirror - Shoulder - Signal) while dealing with a type of vertigo that attacks her periodically and which preoccupies her all the time in her attempts to avoid an occurrence. It's not clear why she wants her driver's license except that she now has the money to take the classes. She seems to want to connect with people but in social situations she seems to want to get away as soon as she arrives. She tries to connect via phone with her sister and parents but the attempts are awkward. I found Sonja so odd that I was compelled to keep reading so I could figure her out. But I couldn't. The author did seem to get into her soul and I was sorry for the decision that Sonja made in the end. ( )
  bogopea | Jun 25, 2018 |
As the title rather suggests, Mirror, shoulder, signal is about learning to drive - the central character, Sonja, is a fortyish single woman from the depths of rural Jutland who feels somewhat adrift in the urban rush of Copenhagen. She earns her living as the Danish translator of the popular but appallingly violent Swedish crime novels of Gösta Svensson, which are starting to disgust her; the driving lessons with gossipy, motherly instructor Jytte are getting her nowhere; she doesn't want to reveal that she may be unfit to drive anyway as she suffers from dizzy spells as a result of a hereditary balance problem. And she misses the contact she used to have with her sister Kate.

This should be a grim and miserable sort of novel, but it's actually very funny, and the ending is delightfully offbeat. Maybe there isn't quite enough story to support a full-scale novel (even a relatively short one like this), but that doesn't really matter, as Sonja is such an endearing character. And there are plenty of engaging jokes about the clichés of Nordic Noir... ( )
  thorold | Oct 28, 2017 |
Driving lessons.
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017, and like it's colleague, the Man Booker Prize, this seems to imply a somewhat off-the-wall read. I haven't followed the International version of the prize in the past, but it probably represents my taste more than the English version.

This is a Danish author, in translation, and if I'm honest, not a lot happens. It's a short book at under 200 pages, and centres around Sonja, a middle-aged woman, who is trying prove something to herself by learning to drive. Her driving instructor won't let her touch the gear lever and changes gear for her, which is understandably frustrating.
She holds down a job translating a crime writer's novels from Swedish to Danish, and as he seems to be quite a well known author, this job gives Sonja some degree of respect. Meanwhile she goes for regular massage with Ellen, a somewhat forward masseuse who reads all sorts if importance into every ache and pain that Sonja confesses to.

Living in Copenhagen, Sonja frequently thinks with nostalgia of her childhood in the wilds of Denmark, where her sister, Kate, still lives. Kate avoids answering the phone and Sonja is progressively more frustrated by her inability to contact her sister.

"Sonja knows this much about love: there's not much of it in practice, but it's always thrived on people's tongues." (loc 777).

The translation was good and I guess I learned a little about life in Denmark, a place I've never been, but this is not a book I'll be encouraging everyone to buy. ( )
  DubaiReader | Aug 30, 2017 |
In English translation we have grown accustomed to thinking of Danish writer Dorthe Nors as a minimalist and miniaturist with her experimental list-based novellas in "So Much for That Winter" and short-short stories in "Karate Chop.". "Mirror, Shoulder, Signal" takes a further turn with minimal plot and drama, which presents its own challenges for the writer and reader.

Lead character Sonja is the Danish language translator of (fictional) Swedish crime novelist Gösta Svensson (the grisly-sounding nature of his novels made me think of Lars Kepler, himself a fictional construct). Sonja is disconnected from the world and her path back is portrayed to be learning to drive in middle-age with some very quirky driving instructors.

I've very much enjoyed all of the Dorthe Nors that I have read up to now,but couldn't seem to get engaged with this latest novel. It does have a wonderful meet-cute ending with another unorthodox character and that was the point at which I actually started to become interested, but then the book was over. ( )
3 vote alanteder | Apr 23, 2017 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorthe Norsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoekstra, MishaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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SONJA IS SITTING IN A CAR, and she's brought her dictionary along.
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Dorthe Nors' examines the absurdity of modern life, the complexity of human desire, and the ache of loneliness and disappointment in a novel shot through with flashes of humour. This is a stylishly original and meticulously structured story about searching for meaning in the sometimes alienating urban landscape, and eventually finding a way home.… (more)

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