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I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson

I Curse the River of Time (original 2008; edition 2011)

by Per Petterson

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6554114,692 (3.45)72
Title:I Curse the River of Time
Authors:Per Petterson
Info:Vintage Canada (2011), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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

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English (33)  Norwegian (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All (41)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
I really love Out Stealing Horses, another of Petterson's novels, so thought I'd give this one a go. It unfolds in the same digressive narrative style, very much like someone telling you a story by a campfire or over a languorous dinner. I found it enrapturing and read the entire novel in two or three sittings. The story is simple: the narrator finds out that his mother is dying of cancer the same week that the Berlin Wall falls, and just as his marriage is about to end. He travels to see his mother, and as he does so, reminisces about various experiences in his past, and wonders what happened to his idealism and the life he once imagined he would build for himself. (The title of the novel is pretty on the nose.) The laconic style somehow amplifies the pathos of the novel. I found it almost unbearably sad, particularly since the narrator is almost the exact same age as I am. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
In common with other reviewers I found this novel less satisfying than Out Stealing Horses. Set in 1989, Arvid is 37 years old and his mother has been diagnosed with cancer. His relationship with his mother is central to the novel and this is difficult and he is not confident that his mother cares for him. Arvid is not able to articulate his feelings and turns to alcohol and sometimes violence to overcome this. His mother is disappointed in him for leaving college and working in a factory, as requested by the communist party. He feels he is not a very able communist party member as he does not manage to recruit from the workforce but he is pleased that he is good at his job in the factory and seems to get some satisfaction from his job. The narrative flits between 1989 and the past and there we meet a girlfriend who is still at school and is very young and I became uncomfortable with this relationship, the reader is given no idea where this ended, it may have been in his marriage, that was now ending in divorce or not. It is a sad novel set in the cold of November in Norway and Denmark. ( )
  Tifi | Aug 23, 2016 |
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.
( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
In a shortish narrative that jumps around in time, Per Petterson relays the story of Arvid, a man in his mid-thirties who cannot get along with his mother. Emotions stay buried deeply in this story, and only surface when Arvid behaves badly.

We witness as Arvid, still in his teens, announces to his mother that he’s leaving college to join the worldwide proletariat as a member of the Communist Party. She slaps him. He travels to a lake with his girlfriend, and while they have fun, we don’t see her any more after this episode. And he hears the news that his mother is terminally ill, but can’t find the love inside required to be anything but a pest, forcing himself into her company as she travels from Oslo to Denmark to visit a home from long ago.

There isn’t much to recommend Arvid, and very likely this is the point. We get this first-person portrait of a very unsympathetic character; his desires and approach to life are rather childish; his wife is divorcing him, and there are mysterious occurrences in the past concerning a couple of his brothers. This strikes as an example of viewing the world from the eyes of a problem child, a troublesome employee, an adult man who in some ways has failed to launch. It’s effective in that way, but the string that should pull this narrative taut and lift it off the surface in my view stays slack and accomplishes nothing.

Per Petterson is admired for his other work, and I have probably latched on to something lesser here.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2016/01/i-curse-river-of-time-by-per-petterso... ( )
  LukeS | Jan 5, 2016 |
There is plenty of compassion in a Per Petterson novel. Even with at least three difficult themes wrapped up into one package. Death, relationships, and the examination of a life too late in the game now to change. This novel was not "fun" to read, but I am glad I read it. Seems I end up liking pretty much everything the man writes. The end result for me was in a difficulty overcome, and that is saying something. ( )
  MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Petterson håller sig, liksom sina karaktärer, på artigt avstånd och lämnar lite för mycket osagt. Jag får känslan av att den verkliga huvudpersonen här är Arvids mor, men eftersom Arvid inte känner henne får vi aldrig heller göra det
Lågmäld i tonen förmår den ändå måla fram en nästan gastkramande bild av en människa som kämpar med sina oförlösta drömmar och sina föreställningar om livet och världen som inte alls blivit vad han hade tänkt sig.
Det är ordknappheten som gäller. Utan att för den skull vare sig naturimpressionerna eller alla de många spröda stämningarna behöver träda tillbaka i denna vemodsfyllda berättelse.
Med psykologisk blick och nedtonade stilmedel tecknar Petterson ett övertygande porträtt av en vilsegången ensamvarg i den lägre medelåldern.
Det är en vemodig och stillsam historia, men helt utan sentimentalitet, skriven på ett mycket vackert och poetiskt språk. Författaren har en enastående förmåga att realistiskt skildra vardagen med dess små detaljer och tidsmarkörer.

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Per Pettersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barslund, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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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