Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meeting at the Milestone by Sigurd Hoel

Book Rating 7 out of 10
This is an interesting book. The form of the book is some unusual. It falls in parts which are quite stylistically diverse. In the initial part of the book the author is musing about why people become traitiors. (The book is written in the wake of WW2 in Norway, where the author apparently played a role in the resistance movement, thus a "Traitor" in the concept of the author is a person who became a nazi or supported the nazi occupation of Norway). This part of the book is written post WW2. Then comes a part of the book where the author is reminiscing about his early love encounters in the 1910-1920's. Here is a very beautiful chapter, the chapter "Kari", the passage describes quite moving how a young man and woman meet each other and spend the night together on midsummers night in Oslo, somewhere in the 1910-1920's. I think that this part definitely is among the must remarkable love accounts in northern litterature ever. Then comes a part part of the book which is fiction like, the storyteller is involved in some dramatic events in the late part of WW2, he is a resistance man, it turns out that the person who eventually betrays him is his own son. In his love encounter with Kari 20 years before, it turns out that she became pregnant with the authors child, without his knowing. Then Kari left him and married another man. This other man is one of the authors old friends and he later became a nazi, and the son (really the authors son) as well became a nazi. This part also plays with identity and consciousness, because when he first sees his son (the young nazi), he believes to see himself and also during the dramatic and painful events the divide between reality and dream is blurred, also he watches himself from outside, he watches the whole world from outside at a distance like in 1990 Paul Auster novel "The Music of Chance". In the end of the book we return to where we started, the author is musing about humans and destinies, he reveals the project of the novel: Why people become what they become? He reveals to the readers the story about the writing process. It is a project that he has tried to carry through on 3 different attempts, these different attempts are the diverse parts of the novel. But he acknowledges that he hasn't succeeded in the project, it has failed, it was too big a job for him, but the various parts of the novel documents the attempts. The novel has several aspects of metafiction, it's kind of surprising that it was already published in 1947 because it seems to have some stylistically relations to metafictional works like the work of Paul Auster which rose to prominence in the 1980's and 1990's.

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