This is a collection of short stories based on the theme of separation. set primarily around the oslofjord area of norway. Dealing with diverse subtexts and approached in stylistically varied ways, the 18 stories detail the thoughts and behaviours of a cross section of society, digging deeply into the consciousness of the individual and the harmony of relationships. Including 10 new stories.
on a lonely norwegian hillside one christmas morning, a young man sits and ponders his life and his hoped for love, Vera. his thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of two gentlemen out for a walk. agreeing to continue the walk as a threesome they discover the remains of a fox and the entire atmosphere of the walk quickly changes.
As Randolph takes the train with his wife, her beauty and its regime fascinate him in ways he could only imagine being appreciated; his life seems so empty and he longs to have a way to express himself visually and emotionally.
by the shores of the Oslo fjord, at the family cabin, a father and daughter gather on the anniversary of the mother’s death; with time having passed, memories are challenged and recalled to strengthen them again. is it really possible for the father to forgive the loss enforced upon him, can nature and his family offer glimpses into the past, bringing his wife back to him in unexpected ways?
a middle-aged man gazes out from his empty little store, staring at the abandoned winter sea-front and the fjord, when he is interrupted by an unexpected and out of place customer. immediately he notices her similarity to the love who left him decades before, triggering a flood of questions about his life and loves.
"But I Wasn’t" is the touching story of a boy who has been given the task of walking his little sister to school. He finds it hard to combine his big boy image with the job at hand. He can’t see the end of the misery either.
This is a deep and haunting short story about youth and torment, about trying to deal with life - fighting, maybe failing. Its strengths lie in its atmospherics and the characterization, particularly the female voice, which are warm and believable.
Although the story is told in real time, the use of memory and flashback provides one with a broader, richer back-story that ties the characters, events and themes together decently, perhaps a little too implicitly.
Where it does fall short however, is that Williams has tried to force too many events and ideas into too small a space - there is massive potential here for this to be fleshed out into a more substantial novella. As such it does suffer from a pet peeve of mine - a tendency to 'list' actions - "he did, i said, they went, he said, he thought, this was, i went" - having said that, it doesn't really detract so much in this instance, as the tension in the story and the 'train of thought' style do benefit rhythmically from this rapidity of action.
All in all, this is a decent read from an author to look out for in the future.