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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Buzz Aldrin,
What Happened to You
in All the Confusion ?

Johan Harstad

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To purchase Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ?

Title: Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ?
Author: Johan Harstad
Genre: Novel
Written: 2005 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 471 pages
Original in: Norwegian
Availability: Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ? - US
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ? - UK
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ? - Canada
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ? - India
Buzz Aldrin, mais où donc es-tu passé ? - France
Buzz Aldrin wo warst du in all dem Durcheinander - Deutschland
Che ne è stato di te, Buzz Aldrin ? - Italia
  • Norwegian title: Buzz Aldrin, hvor ble det av deg i alt mylderet ?
  • Translated by Deborah Dawkin

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Our Assessment:

B : decent writing and ideas, but rather drawn out

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Corriere della Sera . 31/12/2008 Paolo Giordano
Dagbladet . 10/5/2005 Fredrik Wandrup
Svenska Dagbladet . 26/10/2006 Stefan Spjut

  From the Reviews:
  • "La narrativa non è certo all'altezza della musica nel manipolare le sensazioni, ma quando si libera da certe gabbie stilistiche, può arrivarci straordinariamente vicino." - Paolo Giordano, Corriere della Sera

  • "En inntrengende og underholdende fortelling (....) Boka er lang, kanskje for lang (.....) Dette er muligens et bevisst stilgrep, men språket kan bli for litterært og for lite muntlig -- dessuten for likt fra person til person." - Fredrik Wandrup, Dagbladet

  • "(E)n begåvad men utsvävande skapelse." - Stefan Spjut, Svenska Dagbladet

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:

       Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ? is narrated by the unassuming Mattias, who is twenty-nine when the story begins. What Mattias wants to be is: "a smooth running cog in the world". He doesn't want to stand out it in any way, reveling in his ordinariness, deflecting all attention, just getting along -- below the radar:

Mine was a simple plan: I came, I saw, I disappeared.
       No conquering for him -- and hence also Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, seems far more the man whose footsteps he wants to follow in than the one everyone remembers, Neil Armstrong. With Mattias born on 20 July 1969, the day of the moon landing, the astronautical connection is an obvious one for him all along.
       When he starts his account Mattias is also very happy with how things are going: he loves his job as a gardener (the perfect job for him), he's been together with his girlfriend Helle for some twelve and a half years (he does the more precise maths too: 6,564,960 minutes). Then, of course, it all comes crashing down: business is bad, so he's let go -- and Helle dumps him. Mattias does not take this well. He goes along with a friend who has a band for a gig on the remote Faroe Islands -- and he winds up staying there.
       Mattias falls into the right hands, those of Havstein, who looks over a sort-of half-way house where other troubled folk live. Out of the way even on the out of the way Faroe Islands, Mattias can use the time away: he finds: "I was out of order", and this seems a decent place not to have to worry about anything and try to become a cog again.
       Mattias spends quite a while there. He befriends some of those there, tries to sort himself out, builds souvenir sheep (but then turns to gardening again), worries his parents. Everyone is pretty patient with him, and slowly he figures things out -- or at least comes to terms with them. Not much really happens -- highpoints include him missing a plane, though there is at least one disturbing death, too -- and Mattias tries to find his place in the world again -- not at the fore, but comfortably in the second row.
       Of course, it also turns out Mattias' mental imbalance isn't quite as new or sudden as it first seemed: eventually he admits: "Something serious had happened in 1983", when he was fourteen .....
       Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ? ambles amiably along, and Mattias tells his story reasonably well, but squeezing profound meditation out of this requires considerable effort, and over nearly five hundred pages the strain shows. It's nice to find a story with a protagonist who eschews sensationalism, and who isn't out to constantly prove that he's number one; on the other hand, fairly little of note (though enough of consequence, I suppose) happens, and while Mattias and some of the other characters are engaging enough ... well, it's still a stretch over five hundred pages.
       A nicely leisurely-paced novel about (among other things) un-ambition, Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ? is an enjoyable lazy summer afternoons-read, away from the office (or the rat-race in general) -- but it's also a bit trying.

- M.A.Orthofer, 15 July 2011

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Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion ?: Reviews: Other books by Johan Harstad interest under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Norwegian author Johan Harstad was born in 1979.

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© 2011-2012 the complete review

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