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Doppler by Erland Loe
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Doppler (original 2004; edition 2012)

by Erland Loe, Don Bartlett (Translator), Don Shaw (Translator)

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4942120,689 (3.67)10
Member:StephenBarkley
Title:Doppler
Authors:Erland Loe
Other authors:Don Bartlett (Translator), Don Shaw (Translator)
Info:House of Anasi Press (2012), Hardcover, 183 pages
Collections:Your library, @Home
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Fiction, Nature

Work details

Doppler by Erlend Loe (2004)

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English (11)  Danish (4)  Norwegian (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (21)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
I just love everything Erlend writes. This story was partly sad (I am animal lover, so you can imagine if you read it), but once you get over the start, it is jolly good novel. ( )
  BunnysBla | Feb 19, 2014 |
A light philosophical novella about the pressures of Jante Law / conformity, consumerism and communitarianism, and how one could be dissatisfied living in the best-organised country in the world. So similar territory to Loe's earlier Naive Super - but with an older protagonist / narrator, a family man in his thirties.

Loe does a nimble balancing act, never coming down on one side or the other to say who's right or wrong (it has to be one of those "bit of both" situations) and using the ambiguous devices of a recent bereavement and a bump on the head to foreshadow Doppler's exit from mainstream society for a tent in the woods and disorganised random scavenging. (I felt the ambiguity was played much better here than in Slaughterhouse Five, where the aliens, as far as I was concerned, sounded more like a hallucination than anything else.) There is also a feeling of airiness and space that you don't get with many English-language possibly-unreliable narrators.

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It's a couple of years since I read Erlend Loe's Naive, Super - until last year the only one of his books translated into English – and although I really liked it, I don't remember it as vividly as some other novels I read around the same time. What I did recall from it whilst reading Doppler is a theme of how it was possible to be dissatisfied even when living in the best-run, most financially secure nation in the world (the main character was a sort of Holden Caulfield but more philosophical and self-aware, and less likely to strike over-25s as brattish), details of the nature of Norwegian society (e.g. people aren't automatically paranoid and suspicious about an adult making friends with a kid who lives in the same block of flats), and a clever, subtle ambiguity that leaves what could have been a preachy or overly neat book open to interpretation. Whilst the plot and protagonist are different, these features all recur in Doppler.

Part of the ambiguity here is created by a rather well-worn device (at least it seems well-worn after reading Slaughterhouse Five in the last three months). The story begins with the narrator having a bump on the head in a cycling accident: so is he concussed / slightly brain-damaged, or is he right? Informed by experiences with people I've known, I ended up interpreting Billy Pilgrim as having delusions with symbolic meaning, whereas I'm inclined to take Doppler at face-value, sympathetic to him as an individual whilst acknowledging that society would collapse if everyone did what he did, chucked their job and wandered off into the wilderness, occasionally stealing for subsistence. I don't like tents, and would consider as last words “I wish I'd been able to spend more time at the office”, so am happy to take such tricksters as one of the most interesting parts of life's rich pageant rather than slagging them off for selfish irresponsibility. NB Preachy tutters, not everyone has to live the same way!

His exasperation with “nice” people (i.e. the middle-class Norwegians he knows) reminded me of an ex who used to say that; he also seemed to recognise that I'm part “nice”, and part “not-nice” (he had to be “nice” really in order to keep his job, anyway). I feel part of both ways of thinking about life shown here, not fully part of any.

It's a book so much about themes, and quite lightly done that it's hard to find much more to say about it. Except that I wonder if it was inspired by the modern Finnish classic The Year of the Hare, in which another Nordic man jacks in his job and relationship to go and live in the wilderness with an animal companion. And the break-ins to get food brought to mind another Scandinavian dropout story, Bergman's Summer with Monika.

Perhaps Doppler seems a more intelligent book by not coming to an absolute conclusion, but it was also frustrating for someone like me who tends to have a foot in both camps, not to see an answer expressed in words. Anyway, perhaps for me a few people I've met who share that tendency resolve this tension better - through the way they live their own lives - than a novel can anyway.

Read 4 Dec 2013. ( )
  antonomasia | Dec 25, 2013 |
Doppler is a very strange book for all the right reasons. It is the stream of consciousness of a man, Andreas Doppler, who comes to the realisation that he has grown weary of living a proper life with all the other proper people doing proper things. He decides to go live out in the woods for an indefinite amount of time. Pointless, yes, but no more so than anything else he could be doing. The book is both funny and clever without getting too pleased with itself. It also manages to maintain a slight discomfort and uneasiness throughout. It's impossible not to like the main character, but at the same time it is impossible to accept his thoughts and his actions. Doing so would invalidate too many of the premises our society is based on. However, the book never becomes preachy. It poses many questions, but doesn't claim to know all, or even any of the answers. Even when it makes judgements (and quite harsh ones at that) it is done in a slightly absurd and irreverent way which I doubt would offend anyone, even if they happened to identify with the conservative-voting money-grabbing stereotype the main character dislikes so much. In short the book manages to put question marks next to many established truths and wisdoms in a way which I think will give everyone some food for thought without patronising anyone. That's quite rare. ( )
  clq | Aug 11, 2013 |
I picked this book up because of the cover, because of the blurb and especially because of the moose. I'm intrigued by Scandanavian stories and had high hopes for Doppler. My reading was that Doppler is meant to be a sort of anti-consumerist messiah. He doesn't grow or evolve through the story, rather everyone around him comes to embrace his views. Or they're idiots. If you've been looking for a tale to affirm your decision to ditch the wife and kids and get in touch with your inner forest troll, this is the book for you. But be warned: the moose does't turn up as much as you might wish. ( )
  frisky_kitty | Mar 24, 2013 |
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to give up on modern life and move into a tent in the woods? Erlend Loe explores that idea in Doppler.

The book appealed to me on a number of levels. I love the wilderness and the solitude it offers. I’m also concerned with the various trappings of modern culture and was attracted by the promise of a “deeply subversive and … strong criticism of modern consumer culture” (back cover).

First, the good: Loe is a gifted writer who develops Doppler’s character with simplicity and humour. The pages of this short novel flip by effortlessly. By the end, I felt like I really understood the man as well as his acquaintances.

The problem is this: I don’t like Doppler. I don’t like the path he’s chosen. I don’t like his attitude towards his wife, his children, or the people who seem (inexplicably) drawn to him. Here’s his philosophy of life in a nutshell:

"I don’t like people. I don’t like what they do. I don’t like what they are. I don’t like what they say" (27).

It’s telling that Doppler’s only friend (if you can call it that) is an orphaned Moose. Doppler is a selfish man, a selfishness that Loe tries to mask as self-discovery.

This book does subvert modern consumer culture, but it merely trades consumerism for isolationism.

If you say that you don’t like people, you will eventually have to face the fact that you’re a person. Perhaps that’s addressed in the sequel. ( )
  StephenBarkley | Feb 25, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erlend Loeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eklund, LottaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The woods are lovely dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep. -Robert Frost
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Isäni on kuollut.
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Book description
A bestseller in Scandinavia -- Doppler is the enchanting, subversive, and very unusual story about one man and his moose.

This beguiling modern fable tells the story of a man who, after the death of his father, abandons his home, his family, his career, and the trappings of civilization for a makeshift tent in the woods where he adopts a moose-calf named Bongo. Or is it Bongo who adopts him? Together they devote themselves, with some surprising results, to the art of carefree living.

Hilarious, touching, and poignant in equal measure -- you will read it with tear-stained cheeks and sore sides -- Doppler is also a deeply subversive novel and a strong criticism of modern consumer culture.
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Doppler loses his father, leaves his family and decides to move into the woods. When he kills a she-elk for meat, he's adopted by her calf with whom he gradually becomes friends. He names the little elk Bongo. This is a charming, absurd and subversive novel with serious undertones and criticism of our modern consumer society.… (more)

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