On his first day of school, a teacher welcomes Audun to the class by asking him to describe his former life in the country. But there are stories about his family he would prefer to keep to himself, such as the weeks he spent living in a couple of cardboard boxes, and the day of his little brother’s birth, when his drunken father fired three shots into the ceiling. So he refuses to talk and refuses to take off his sunglasses. In his late teens Audun is the only one of his family who remains with his mother in their home in a working-class district of Oslo. He delivers newspapers when he is not in school and talks for hours about Jack London and Ernest Hemingway with his best friend Arvid. But he’s not sure that school is the right path for him, feeling that life holds other possibilities. Sometimes tender, sometimes brutal, It's Fine by Me is a brilliant novel from the acclaimed author of Out Stealing Horses.
Part of Petterson's backlist (which is being published in English following the breakout success of Out Stealing Horses), this spare but memorable novel features Arvid Jansen, the protagonist of I Curse the River of Time, as the only friend of Audun Sletten, a young man whose reticence conceals a wellspring of feeling. Not a lot happens in the novel: a teenage Audun moves to Oslo and a new school; allows himself to be befriended by Arvid; reads Hemingway and dreams of becoming a writer; remembers his dead brother, Egil, and his cruel father; and tries to take care of those he loves-his mother, his sister, and his friend-without showing too much emotion. Fans of Petterson will recognize his confident prose, as well as his concern with solitude and the essential privacy of experience, but one need not be familiar with the author's oeuvre to appreciate his precise storytelling. Petterson's achievement in this work lies in conveying the passionate alienation of a young man caught between a childish need for protection and a powerful desire to protect. Rights director: Jane Kirby, Random House. (Oct. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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October 02, 2012
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