Lazy Days by Erlend Loe, Don Bartlett (translator) and Don Shaw (translator)
|Lazy Days by Erlend Loe, Don Bartlett (translator) and Don Shaw (translator)|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A cleverly different account of a family holiday that's definitely not for family reading but will keep adults engrossed. Poignant and funny in turn, this is about a Norwegian marriage in crisis, a man in mid-life crisis and Nigella Lawson.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: November 2013|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
Norwegians Bror and Nina Telemann are married and middle-aged with three children. When it comes to vacations, they look for different things in a holiday. Nina enjoys travel, Austria and plenty of fresh air while Bror prefers time to contemplate life, to write and think about the theatre and to smoke. Oh and he hates Austria but has a soft spot for Nigella Lawson, although 'soft' may be a bit of a misnomer in this case.
Erlend Loe is a Norwegian polymath. Not only is he an author but also a film critic and screenwriter, the latter showing in this small but well-formed novel that's practically a script. There are no speech marks but the way it's written leaves us in no doubt who's speaking, its succinct length belying its rich depth. Indeed we come to know, relate to and luxuriate in the people Erland enables to materialise before our very imaginations. (With a huge vote of readerly thanks and credit going to translators Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, of course.)
Bror is wonderful, although perhaps not someone to we'd want living next door. He's ebullient and almost English in his resistance to foreign languages and any attempt at understanding the innocuous inhabitants of his wife's chosen holiday destination.
Their host, Badel, translates the town's name literally from the German to the Norwegian equivalent of Mixing Part Church so, in Bror's lexicon, Mixing Part Church it remains. We shouldn't be surprised as the idea of social faux pas is an anathema to our hero. Bror is not only happy to mention the war, he doesn't' care if he gets away with it or not and will remind the locals that Hitler himself was Austrian. Basically he just wants to be left alone to write and think about theatre. However Nina and the children have other ideas!
Badel remains almost two-dimensional which seems a little odd when compared with the layers invested in Bror and Nina. However we soon realise the reason: we see him as Bror does so the lack of depth and any stereotyping is fully justified. He's also the source of one of the great comedic moments. Indeed, if you aren't even smirking by the end of the day that non-German-speaking Bror has to spend with non-Norwegian-speaking Badel, a pulse check may be in order.
There's more to this than smiles though. We also witness poignancy and drama as both Nina and Bror are forced to look at their lives and their effect on each other. There are also some adult moments that are contextual but may prevent you from lending this to young 'uns.
I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Erlend before Lazy Days but my appetite is certainly whetted for more.
I'd like to thank Head of Zeus for providing us with a copy for review.
Further Reading: If you too enjoyed it, then he's also written |Doppler, another thoughtful comedy; this time about a pained man at one with a forest and a baby elk. See you there!
You can read more book reviews or buy Lazy Days by Erlend Loe, Don Bartlett (translator) and Don Shaw (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Lazy Days by Erlend Loe, Don Bartlett (translator) and Don Shaw (translator) at Amazon.com.
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