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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Lars Saabye Christensen

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Title: Bly
Author: Lars Saabye Christensen
Genre: Novel
Written: 1990
Length: 299 pages
Original in: Norwegian
Availability: Bly - US (Norwegian)
Waterloo - Deutschland
  • Bly has not yet been translated into English
  • Bly is the sequel to Beatles

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Our Assessment:

B : solid, melancholy sequel

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 4/5/2005 Aldo Keel

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The complete review's Review:

       Bly continues the story started in Beatles. Kim Karlsen again narrates, the story focussing on his return to Oslo after a while (literally and metaphorically) at sea. In his mid-20s now, the relatively carefree times of his youth (and the 1960s) have passed. And though he's back on dry land, Kim is still very much at sea. He generally introduces himself as 'Elmer Fudd', can't really re-connect with his family, -- and is suffering from a fairly painful injury to his privates.
       In Beatles Kim was one of a gang of four, but already at the end of that book they had drifted apart. The others also figure in this novel, but far less prominently; they too haven't really made it. Seb is selling his poetry on the streets (with little success -- though Jens Bjørneboe makes his day (or year) by buying a copy), while Ola is a walking refrigerator-ad -- literally walking around inside (a very, very hot) refrigerator costume.
       Kim's family isn't doing that great either: the artistic dreamer-uncle Hubert is institutionalised (and can't get it together, with sad results), and Kim recognises that even grandpa won't survive forever. There's a girl, Vivi, but relationships remain difficult for Kim.
       Bly is the story of Kim fumbling towards finding a place for himself in a society that he's not particularly comfortable with. Identity remains in flux, whether it's Kim wanting to present himself as Elmer Fudd or in misattributed paintings (Hubert has been copying some Picassos) or poetry-collections (Seb ascribes his latest poetry collection to someone else, too). The novel is fairly melancholy, in part even gloomy, though there are some comic elements. Christensen moves the story along well, convincingly conveying Kim's alienation and his struggles. The other characters are also nicely presented and used, and Kim's genuine affection for them -- even at their sorriest -- is a nice touch.
       A leisurely read, without too many grand or forced events (and some quiet chuckles), Bly is a good portrait of a person and a time. It's not too ambitious, but in its own, relatively small way, is an entertaining success.

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Bly: Reviews: Lars Saabye Christensen: Other books by Lars Saabye Christensen under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Norwegian author Lars Saabye Christensen was born in 1953.

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