cover image Melancholy II

Melancholy II

Jon Fosse, trans. from the Norwegian by Eric Dickens. Dalkey Archive, $14.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-56478-904-4

In this coda to the acclaimed Melancholy, Fosse’s presentation of commonplace events is almost unbearably intense. Set in Norway during the early years of the last century, this story is told from the point of view of Oline, the sister of real-life painter Lars Hertervig, who narrated his own decent into madness in the first novel. As the action opens, Hertervig has recently died, and Oline’s other brother, Sivert, is critically ill. Over the book’s single day, the elderly Oline twice goes to the harbor to buy fish, is visited by an old friend, and visits Sivert on his deathbed. She also struggles with pain, incontinence, and substantial memory loss. As Oline grapples to make sense of her present, she has vivid recollections of her childhood and adult life spent with her eccentric brother. The stream-of-consciousness teases Oline’s aches and lapses out over paragraphs and pages. Her struggle home from the harbor with her fish becomes truly herculean, and although she frequently resolves to visit her dying brother, she keeps forgetting to go, which adds a sense of suspense. Admirers of the first book will find this novel subtler and more profound than its predecessor, and new readers will discover a stunning, haunting meditation on age. [em](Sept.) [/em]