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In the Wake

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A deep character

    In Oslo, forty-three years old novelist Arvid Jansen feels depressed. He has felt that way since the ferry sunk killing his parents and two of his three siblings. He knows he must move on, but cannot even while he struggles with writing a novel about his dad. Adding to his feelings of guilt and ineptitudeis the fact his only surviving brother tried suicide perhaps because as Arvid rationalizes it he felt alone as 'his living relative (Arvid) has not been there for him.--------------- Still Arvid tries to reconnect with his estranged ¿Big Brother¿ and even makes human contact with his Kurdish neighbor, though neither understands the language of the other. Then there is Mrs. Grinde, who looks at him all the time from her window he wonders if it is as a sex object or a bug though he admits to himself he would like a tryst with her. He thinks back on his demanding father, who he fought with when his dad was alive and Arvid realizes in some macabre way his misses the arguments.-------------- IN THE WAKE is a reflective insightful look at grief from the perspective of an individual who seems on the brink of a breakdown with no one to turn to for help. Arvid narrates a few weeks in his life as he still mourns his loss though six years has past since the tragic sinking of MS Estonia (real event). Suffering from survivor guilt and alienated from everyone, Arvid believes that along with the deaths of his family, his writing ability died. This is a deep character study that centers on grief as individualized and solitary, however to return to the living one must look to others not for help, but to help.------------- Harriet Klausner

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