This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle and Martin Aitken (translator)

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This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle and Martin Aitken (translator)

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Buy This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle and Martin Aitken (translator) at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kate Jones
Reviewed by Kate Jones
Summary: A wonderful, modern, near-perfect novel told in a fresh and magnetic voice. The best book I've read this year.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099587477

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This is the first novel of Helle Helle's, an award winning Danish author, to be translated into English. It is easy to see from this novel why she is gaining accolades in her Danish homeland. The rhythmic, natural flow of the narrative is mesmerising and appears to lull you through the book. It has some lovely, spare sentences of description: There were run-down cottages with open doors and news on the radio. Gulls flocked around an early harvester in the late sun. But mostly, it is written in a modernist, almost stream of consciousness style, which I found refreshing.

The novel, written in first person, follows Dorte, a supposed student at Copenhagen University. Rather than attend lectures, she wanders the streets of Copenhagen, reflecting on her various failed, casual relationships and the events leading up to her living alone in a small bungalow in a tiny railway town. Her aunt, who is also called Dorte, features quite heavily in the narrative and it is clear to the reader through Dorte's words and thoughts, that there is a correlation between the two Dortes' lives and behaviour.

I warmed to Dorte straight away and though I didn't feel the other characters - particularly the men she has relationships with - were fleshed out, and appeared quite similar to one another, I think this was perhaps the point. The novel works a lot on what is not said, concentrating on Dorte's experience of life, and the reader needs to read between the lines a bit to see beyond this.

I enjoyed this book hugely and would highly recommend it, especially if you appreciate streamlined, modernist writing styles, as I do. If you want a book with lots of twists and turns and action, this might not be the book for you.

Let's hope that this is not the only novel of Helle Helle's to be translated into English.

Further reading: If you liked this, you might like There but for the by Ali Smith

Buy This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle and Martin Aitken (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle and Martin Aitken (translator) at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle and Martin Aitken (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy This Should be Written in the Present Tense by Helle Helle and Martin Aitken (translator) at Amazon.com.

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