I Curse the River of TimeBook |
Mom’s dying, the wife is leaving, but memories stay put.
Time is as multi-layered as Per Petterson's sentences are spare in his latest novel, I Curse the River of Time. His protagonist, Arvid Jansen, will be familiar to Petterson fans, who might remember him from previous Petterson works such as Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes. This time, Jansen is dealing with a divorce and his mother's diagnosis of cancer while realizing, at the age of thirty-seven, that he's changed dramatically since his days as an idealistic young communist. In short, he's having a midlife crisis. Petterson uses simple prose to explore interpersonal failure, the starkness of his sentences expressing a paucity of true human connection. In these moments, Jansen's sense of alienation and emotional ineptitude are made palpable. Throughout the novel, Jansen travels back in time, memory complicating his present crises. As time loops back on itself, we see that he feels lost, but occasionally these temporal shifts muddy the book's chronology. Still, the juxtaposition between the richness of memory and the slightness of Jansen's present creates a harrowing portrait of a lonely man in a lonely world whose greatest intimacy is with his own past.