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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Ida Marie Hede

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To purchase Adorable

Title: Adorable
Author: Ida Marie Hede
Genre: Novel
Written: 2017 (Eng. 2021)
Length: 146 pages
Original in: Danish
Availability: Adorable - US
Adorable - UK
Adorable - Canada
directly from: Lolli Editions
  • Danish title: Bedårende
  • Translated by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg

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Our Assessment:

B+ : creative take on life and death

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Information . 29/4/2017 Solveig Daugaard

  From the Reviews:
  • "Bedårende handler om familier, telefoner, lort og kærlighed, men navnlig om døden og det er en af de bedste bøger, jeg har læst i år. Aldrig tidligere har det posthumanistiske paradigmeskifte teet sig så muntert i al sin mørke insisteren. (...) Det er overraskende svært at give et bare rimelig fyldestgørende omrids af, hvad der egentlig foregår" - Solveig Daugaard, Information

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:

       Adorable explores life and death, often at their most elemental. There is a coherence to the work as a whole, but Hede takes a number of different approaches in it. The first and last of the four parts are similarly focused on B and Q, the couple who are the parents of young child Æ; the first part, 'A Heart-Shaped Bum', is largely realistic in its scenes and episodes, but the concluding part, 'Friday Night', is a more fanciful vision, of entering an underworld. The second part is essentially a single description: 'A Room in B's Brain is Arranged for the Dead', covering less than two pages -- while the third is, as its title suggests, a 'Death Essay', a first-person piece, the narrator reflecting, in eight 'calls', on the death of her father.
       The opening section is very much the wonder-of-life-embracing, the amazingness of the new-born, the infant, the toddler beautifully presented. It centers around Æ, that small body that is all center of attention: "As if she were a little altar, a healing stone or an authority". Hede focuses very much on the body and the physical, and the infant as an organism. So also Hede wallows in shit and excretions -- emphasizing, for example, the bacteria that, at birth: "seep into Æ and trigger an immune response". This detailed, vivid description of excreta isn't dirty; it is, decidedly, life -- and Hede's depictions of it, even if graphic, even often come close to the poetic:

A long yellow trail of snot dangles from a porcelain nose, swings into her mouth like an acrobat, elegantly it's slurped in, swallowed.
       The presentation here is almost choppy, sentences with breaks between them -- sometimes the sentences so short the narrative becomes like a progressing list:
When it comes to Æ, the slightest transformation comes with a sense of relief.

Something has come full circle.

That's how it is when B looks at Æ:

An unpredictable landscape. Piles of sand soaked by salty water, the kind of landscape that is pink even in winter.

But not a landscape that you can hold in your hands.

More an uncharted zone.

A little wobbly, a little tacky, a little chaotic and humid.

A little adorable.
       If the first part revels in burgeoning life, the middle two are focused on death. In the third part, a first-person narrator emerges -- B, presumably -- and the narrative is more straightforward, a person dealing with the death of their father.
       The second section is titled: 'A Room in B's Brain is Arranged for the Dead', and this sets some of the stage for what follows, a way for B/the narrator to come to terms with the fact of death by imagining a space -- that room in B's brain -- for the dead, and for dealing with death.
       The reflections and descriptions in the third section are both more personal and general. The narrator admits:
Death is banal. I don't know if I can write anything about death at all. I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said. And I don't know anything about death. Writing anything about death makes me feel really thick; postulating; cloddish.
       And yet she also finds:
Death is actually like a glowing match for the text, the writing process a glowing match for the warm finger on the ice-cold hand, the dead beard on the living egg.
       She sees:
In death there's still a body, still a gender, still a story. And in death there can be a kind of power: what's been finished can make you feel something monumental.
       Her focus is not so much on the dead individual here, but on the larger theme of death, and how to capture and deal with it, how to possibly wrap one's mind around it. Any approach just reïnforces the uncertainty surrounding in it, unloosening a veritable cascade of questions:
I imagine a world made of signs: of unofficial , imperceptible forms of language. But what does that mean for my own attempt to understand death ?
       The final section in a way brings together what has come before, B and Q exploring a fantastical other-world:
Where should we go ? Q asks.

I think we should go down to the underworld, B says.

I must have invited the two of us down here.

We were so wet and horny between the porcelain plates.

I was trying to imagine what death is. Friday night was moving so slow that it almost stalled out.

We're about to go down into an apocalypse.

You can imagine that it's our own.
       It neatly brings together the work, not with clear-cut answers but in its acknowledgement of the complexity of life and death and all their connections. If anything, it's the idea that there can be no certainty of understanding that wins out, the child's words offering comfort in the notion that:
Existence might be something completely different, Mummy, Æ says.

And then our passing doesn't mean so much, Æ says.

Then it really doesn't matter that you make a mess.

That it's messy in your head.
       Adorable is a lovely, creative take on both life and death -- strikingly and effectively earthy, but also beautiful in its spun-out fantasies. It impresses particularly in its descriptions of young(est) childhood (and parenthood). The presentation is not straightforward, but there is a coherence to the whole, and certainly sufficient story, too, making for an engaging and stimulating work.

- M.A.Orthofer, 7 July 2021

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Adorable: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Danish author Ida Marie Hede was born in 1980.

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© 2021 the complete review

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