So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors, trans. by Misha Hoekstra

Experimental in form, these two novellas explore everyday frustrations in love and art.

so much for that winter

Two novellas by Dorthe Nors (Karate Chop) compose So Much for That Winter, translated by Misha Hoekstra from the Danish. They are as stark and unusual in form as they are bleak in mood. The first is “Minna Needs Rehearsal Space,” which is told entirely in declarative sentences, each on its own line. They range from the mundane to the philosophical: “People love wistful pop”; “Hope is a roe deer on a bluff.” This austere narrative style reveals a more complex story, about a woman who has suffered a breakup and seeks space–literal and figurative–for her work as an avant-garde composer. She hides away in her apartment, daydreams a relationship with Ingmar Bergman, and flees to an island she hopes will mend her.

“Days” follows, formed of numbered lists that make up the days of a woman’s life: a diary of sorts. The unnamed character is a frustrated writer, also with a relationship recently ended. Her days are inordinately filled with walks in cemeteries and lots of ice cream. Again the prosaic details blend with moments of poetry: “2. Sorted laundry, two piles, Tuesday”; “But the one who writes must dare to stand with her fledglings stuck to her fingers and surrender them in showers of spittle and roses.”

The result of these startling, experimental novellas is both somber and playful, the themes of romantic disappointment and creative blocks heightened by the minimalist style. So Much for That Winter is a compelling investigation of form and emotion.

This review originally ran in the June 21, 2016 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish news.

Rating: 7 bike rides.

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