Doppler by Erlend Loe

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Doppler by Erlend Loe

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: An amusing parable of a modern man and his intention to be alone – apart from a fostered young elk…
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: December 2012
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 9781781851050

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Meet Doppler. He describes himself late in this as a failed man of my time. Or just a man of a failed time. Depending on how you look at it. The typical Oslo resident, a diligent career man with a young family, he falls off his mountain bike one day and has a kind of epiphany, deciding to avoid everyone else and live alone in the forest. The book starts when he gains a companion however – he is short of food and drink and kills an elk, only to find the animal's baby latching on to him and forming an unbreakable bond…

Doppler and Bongo then survive through the winter with each other's company, and somehow this isolated man's first person narrative is what we're reading. We learn his preference for bartering over commerce, his favouring the personally pleasing as opposed to the societally nice, and more – how great is skimmed milk, how his father was buried with an egg, and why he himself is like Africa.

With all such details I am ignoring the plot of this short novel – the blurb gives a different bias to that which I would, and tells us too much – and yet hoping you don't take this as a frivolous whimsicality. It is far too serious for that, despite a rampant and enjoyable, light sense of humour. It has been called a fable, and if it weren't for the first person narrative, and the fact that it has quite a broad church to cover, that would certainly be the ideal designation.

It's a little unfortunate – and quite disappointing, given the quality here – that we have had to wait eight years for this to appear in English, for the topical references are out of date and a little of the social relevance a little off-kilter as a result. All the same there is an ageless quality to this book, of the middle-age man having a one-man revolution, seeming a mad, hirsute wild man of the forest to others, and of course completely lucid and admirable to the reader. It's a read of just a couple of hours, and you do successfully forget he is unlikely to have written this down for us, his audience – one small indication of how great the writing is. This is a charming little tome, and while it luckily doesn't come in smellovision, given the (unrealistically never growing) elk, it certainly nails the author's intent, of giving us an amusingly subversive hero and both a unique voice and circumstance for him. It is well worth joining him.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy. We also have a review of Lazy Days by Erlend Loe.

A different kind of Oslo man can be had with Professor Andersen's Night by Dag Solstad.

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Buy Doppler by Erlend Loe at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Doppler by Erlend Loe at


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