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Broken by Karin Fossum
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Broken (original 2006; edition 2011)

by Karin Fossum, Charlotte Barslund (Translator)

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2151354,204 (3.41)1 / 19
Member:Hanneri
Title:Broken
Authors:Karin Fossum
Other authors:Charlotte Barslund (Translator)
Info:Mariner Books (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:2013, Norway, Mystery

Work details

Broken by Karin Fossum (2006)

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English (12)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
You start off thinking this is a book about being a writer, but somehow that balances out with being a book about the changing life of a character. The plot is really two stories in one, both deeply interwoven with each other. The author hears her character and helps him to settle his life as requested, but in the end you can see how she is also touched, if only slightly, by his interactions with her. I found the concept of the book as a whole to be unique and entertaining.

Now let's set aside the author's part of the story and talk about what she writes; the story of Alvar, who works in an art gallery. Here you have a man who does the same things, has his usual routine, lives alone and is perfectly content with that. He wants to be a good person, as do many of us, so he reaches out to a girl who has come in to the store off the streets, offering her coffee and letting her wander around a little, where it is warm. He has no idea that one small act of goodness will create complete chaos in his once very orderly life. Alvar makes many mistakes in his life, as we all do, though they are out of complete uncertainty about personal interaction, making certain situations almost difficult to read through, not because the writing is bad, but because said situation is bordering on unbelievable. Fossum never crosses that line, however, keeping things right on that edge where you still believe an event could actually be happening to Alvar, but are always wondering what the socially clumsy man is going to do with the next thing his author has thrown at him.

The characters in this book were so believable that I actually found myself thinking that Fossum herself had people lined up at the door and just recorded everything that was spoken, word for word and turned it into this book. She easily shows us what happens when good intentions become incredibly scrambled by fate and holds a mirror up for us to contemplate the possibilities in our own lives as well. There are times when you want to shout out at the book, "Don't do that, you idiot! What are you thinking?" But that only enhances the experience as a whole. Wouldn't you want to do the same for someone in your own life who had gone astray? ( )
  mirrani | Jan 28, 2014 |
A strange book. In the evocative and harrowing but believable story (which is actually a sub-story, a fiction with a fiction), Fossum never quite overreaches plausibility, and makes no judgements. It is a book about being a writer, but the characters and plots gradually displace the 'real life' narrative, which is itself fantastical. Agonisation and anguish ensue, and then it's done with, and another story maybe beginning as the book ends. Welcome to my world, says Fossum. ( )
  Mijk | Oct 19, 2013 |
What an interesting concept this was. An author looks out her window and sees a line of people, old, young, injured, a mother with a dead baby, and others outside her door. From this throng, a man presses forward and steps across her threshold. The author names him Alvar and thence begins his story. Alvar is the main character in her new novel, and he takes to visiting her in her home, questioning her motives in writing scenarios and people into his story. He wants his story to be memorable, wants to be memorable to her, the author. He reminds her to eat and look after her health, for without her, his story remains in limbo and he fades into obscurity.

This book is as much the story of the author's relationship with her character, Alvar, as it is the story of Alvar and how his life spirals out of his control when a young drug addict walks into the art gallery in which he works. ( )
  cameling | Mar 5, 2012 |
A brave attempt to try something different, or an unnecessary deviation from the crime novel? It all depends on your point of view. I'd read one of Karin Fossum's books before, so I didn't expect something wholly conventional. The form took me a bit by surprise, though.

I found the dual narrative threads a bit distracting, so I put this down often during reading, before finally finishing the book. However, I admire the author's courage in trying something different. There's the same cool detachment I found in the novel I read before this, and also the same empathy. It's just expressed in a different form. ( )
  ten_floors_up | Aug 9, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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To Herdis Eggen, my editor
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I see them in the porch light.
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Book description
Awoman wakes up in the middle of the night. A strange man is in her bedroom. She lies there in silence, paralyzed with fear.The woman is an author and the man one of her characters, one in a long line that waits in her driveway for the time when she’ll tell their stories. He is so desperate that he has resorted to breaking into her house and demanding that she begin. He, the author decides, is named Alvar Eide, forty-two years old, single,works in a gallery. He lives a quiet, orderly life and likes it that way—no demands, no unpleasantness. Until one icy winter day when a young drug addict, skinny and fragile, walks into the gallery. Alvar gives her a cup of coffee to warm her up. And then one day she appears on his doorstep. Broken is an unconventional, subtle, and disturbing mystery from a master of the form.
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Awakened in the middle of the night by one of her own desperate characters, a shocked writer is compelled to envision a background and publish his story, which unfolds through the appearance of an obsessive young drug addict.

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