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I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson
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I Curse the River of Time (2008)

by Per Petterson, Charlotte Barslund (Translator)

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English (27)  Norwegian (3)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
For me, this book was not quite as compelling as either In the Wake (my favorite of Petterson's so far) or Out Stealing Horses. I settled in easily to his now familiar style and breezed through the book, but found the "plot" slightly lacking and the webbing between his usual flashbacks and flash-forwards weaker than in his other books. Still a good read, just not as strong as I'd been hoping for. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
Thank you Goodreads and Graywolf Press for the ARC.

It's been awhile since I read Per Petterson, and I had forgotten how long his sentences can be, and how many commas, and eliptical phrases there are, and how many times tenses can change before the next period, and, and, and.....

then..... I remember how to read his work - just (almost) close my eyes and let the prose flow, imagine the mood place and just enjoy.

This novel is not as dreamy as earlier efforts, more political (even autobiographical?). Fans of Scandinavian ennui will not be disappointed. Nor will urban geographers interested in knowing nearly every Oslo street and subway stop and all about a few Danish islands, too.

It is worth the effort for Per Petterson aficionados. First timers should best try Out Stealing Horses or To Siberia.

Note that Anne Born who did the superb translations of Out Stealing Horses and To Siberia is nowhere to be found. Instead, we have a collaborative translation effort between Per and Charlotte Barlund. It does not result in the same flow, in my view. ( )
  mabroms | Sep 3, 2013 |
Disappointing. A self-absorbed main character who never gains an insights into himself. ( )
  ElizabethAndrew | May 13, 2013 |
I wasn't sure if I was going to write a review of this one, because ... well, it really wasn't the book for me.

I Curse the River of Time is the story of 37 year old Arvid Jansen, who is going through a divorce and whose mother has been diagnosed with cancer. After coming from the doctor and receiving her diagnosis, she abruptly leaves the family home in Oslo and boards a ferry for her native Denmark. She's headed for the family's summer house on the coast and Arvid decides to follow her.

Arvid and his mother have a bit of an estranged relationship. He left behind his college education (which his mother had worked hard to provide for him) in order to work in a factory and to uphold the principles of Communism, of which Arvid was a supporter. (Much of the story takes place in 1989.)

The story is told from Arvid's perspective. It's one where he is reflecting on his life and the decisions made, and in so doing, I Curse the River of Time becomes a rambling sort of story. (I seem to be in a pattern of choosing non-linear, reflecting on one's life types of books lately, which generally is fine with me ... when they work well.) But in this case, I just found myself bored and impatient. This came really close to being a DNF for me, but I was listening on audio and had gotten further in the story than I expected after one of my drives, so I decided to continue. Even though I felt a little sympathy for him (we can all relate to experiencing regret and wishing back time gone by), I didn't much like Arvid and I kind of wanted him out of my car sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, this book left me sad (and freezing, because Arvil seems to be constantly cold - and complaining about such - and there are lots of descriptions of the weather in Norway and Denmark being rather chilly too).

In perusing other reviews, I noticed that several people said this is a very different book than Petterson's Out Stealing Horses. Even though I was disappointed I Curse the River of Time, I'll probably give Petterson another chance with another one of his works. ( )
  bettyandboo | Apr 2, 2013 |
It was difficult at first to give myself into Petterson's simple rhythms. The story is mostly backstory, and he meanders about his memories and his past life in ways that sometimes seem irrelevant. But his wonderful poetic prose -- the "dementing lures" described by James Wood in his recent New Yorker review (http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/12/10/121210crat_atlarge_wood) -- kept rescuing me from my impatience.
( )
  BCbookjunky | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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Per Pettersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barslund, CharlotteTranslatormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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All this happened quite a few years ago.
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No el estar muerto, eso no era capaz de concebirlo, eso era ser nada y por tanto inconcebible para mi, no había nada que temer en realidad, pero lo de morirse, eso si era capaz de concebirlo, ese preciso instante en el que seguro que sabes que justamente ahora ha llegado el momento que siempre has temido, cuando de pronto comprendes que todas la posibilidades de ser quien realmente hubieras querido ser han pasado para siempre, y que quien fuiste es aquel a quien recordarán los demás.
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Anticipating a divorce against a backdrop of the fall of communism, Arvid Jansen is further dismayed by his mother's diagnosis with cancer, a situation that prompts his emotionally charged quest for understanding and balance.

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