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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

So Much for That Winter

by
Dorthe Nors


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase So Much for That Winter



Title: So Much for That Winter
Author: Dorthe Nors
Genre: Novellas
Written: 2010/2013 (Eng. 2015/2016)
Length: 147 pages
Original in: Danish
Availability: So Much for That Winter - US
in Karate Chop - UK
So Much for That Winter - Canada
  • The US Graywolf edition (on which this review is based) consists of the two novellas, 'Minna Needs Rehearsal Space' and 'Days'; 'Minna Needs Rehearsal Space' is included in the UK Pushkin Press edition of Karate Chop, along with Karate Chop (but 'Days' apparently isn't). God forbid publishers would make it easy for readers .....
  • Original Danish titles: Minna mangler et øvelokale (2013) and Dage (2010)
  • Translated by Misha Hoekstra

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Our Assessment:

B : creative, fairly effective approaches

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The LA Times . 16/6/2016 Agatha French
Wall St. Journal . 17/6/2016 Sam Sacks


  From the Reviews:
  • "Each novella nods to a distinctly contemporary cultural shorthand -- status updates, listicles -- while exploding the potential for narrative within formal limits. Thematically tied, they are equally inventive but disparate in structure and effect. (...) Norsí writing is by turns witty, gut wrenching, stark and lyrical. Her characters seesaw between longing for human connection and the space in which to lick their wounds. That she achieves all this while experimenting with form is something of an impossible feat." - Agatha French, The Los Angeles Times

  • "Danish writer Dorthe Nors covers the emotional spectrum of the experience in the two playfully experimental novellas of So Much for That Winter, finding as much material in the comedy of rejection as in its humiliations and heartbreak." - Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       So Much for That Winter collects two novellas, 'Minna Needs Rehearsal Space' and 'Days', both of which play with form .
       'Minna Needs Rehearsal Space' is a story presented entirely in single-sentence (or, occasionally, sentence-segment) paragraphs -- very short sentences, too, that connect but also move the story along quickly:

The sand was untidy, but
Dad and Minna could dive.
Minna's not weak.
Minna won't !
The traffic roars around Minna.
The traffic's unsafe.
       Minna is a composer, "working on a paper sonata". Yes, as the title suggests, she's lost her rehearsal space, and is looking for another, but the story begins with her lover Lars breaking up with her. The two are arguably somewhat related -- Minna has been badgering Lars to get his cousin Tim to help regarding the rehearsal space, and Lars has been resisting -- and in a one-two punch of text messages Lars gives, and Lars takes away: "Tim's on Bornholm" the first one says, giving her a bit of a lead, while with the next Lars abandons Minna, breaking up with her.
       It hits Minna hard -- and Nors has some good fun with the oddities of break-ups in the internet age, where so many people are on 'Facebook' and the like, and: "The pain of being unfriended is unbearable":
Lars has deleted her.
Minna is no longer friends with Lars.
Lars has spoken.
Minna's been expunged.
Lars has disappeared from her wall, but
Minna can see Lars everywhere.
Lars hangs out with the others.
Lars invites people for beer.
       The new technological age, the new cyber-space of personal presence, presentation, and identity, crops up repeatedly here: so too Minna's mother has also taken to the internet, and even has her own weblog, and Minna is shocked by what she finds there:
Minna stares at the text.
The text is more intimate than Mom's Christmas letter to the family.
The text is more naked that Minna's seen Mom in reality
       Minna flees, at least partially, and at least she flees in(to) the real world -- to Bornholm, and the ocean. Memories -- and Ingmar Bergman, whose own life-story accompanies her through the story -- crop up repeatedly, but in a real sense Minna is moving on, too.
       'Days' takes a somewhat different form: written in the first person, it is more direct, and its sentences and thoughts run on longer: the narrator's life is not as chopped into smallest pieces as Minna's, in the previous story. Here the narrator reduces her account to numbered lists -- some of the sentences several times sub-divided, some several lines long. Life isn't reduced here to simple pieces, but there's a sense of trying to impose some sort of order on life -- but life, of course, remains messy and hard to get an easy, firm grip on.
       Nors uses form effectively here. 'Minna Needs Rehearsal Space' -- more traditional in arc, too -- is the more successful of the novellas, but they both work quite well, and the form certainly helps drive along the stories. The novella-length also gives the stories the necessary space to unfold, and wend there ways along -- without then droning on too long.
       A welcome change from the usual reading-fare, and quite well done.

- M.A.Orthofer, 27 July 2016

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Links:

So Much for That Winter: Reviews: Dorthe Nors: Other books by Dorthe Nors under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Danish author Dorthe Nors was born in 1970.

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© 2016 the complete review

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