In an interview in The Economist
(Jan 2012), Per Petterson notes that, "
[W]e cannot know each other. You could call that loneliness, or you could call it character; making us who we are, being different from one another, which is a good thing." In his novel It's Fine by Me
, Petterson uses this shared-yet-unique loneliness as the foundation for characters who are so vulnerable, so real, so beautifully complex, you ache for them.
This slim novel, originally published as Det er greit for meg
(1992) and translated into English by Don Bartlett, revolves around the teenage years of Audun Sletten, a young man who to put it mildly has had a rough go in life. His largely absent father (though not absent enough) is an abusive alcoholic whose presence looms in the shadows of Oslo. His younger brother is dead died in a reckless car...
Beyond the Book
In It's Fine By Me
, on his first day at Veitvet School in 1965, 13-year-old Audun Sletten meets Arvid Jansen a young man who would become his best, and one of his only, friends. "A few girls were skipping rope, and coming straight towards me was a boy on crutches
I glanced left and right, but there was no one else by the fence. He had dark, curly hair and boots like mine, with KINKS written on the one and HOLLIES on the other
I had decided not to make friends with anyone at this school, but this bloke was hard to refuse."
Though he plays a secondary role to Audun in It's Fine By Me
, Arvid Jansen will be familiar to Per Petterson fans; he has starred in four of the author's other works, each of which describes the...