Bragi Ólafsson, trans. from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith. Open Letter, $14.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-940953-82-3
Icelandic musician and author Ólafsson (The Pets) follows a man’s clumsy surveillance scheme in this quirky novel about the long reach of past disappointments. While 35-year-old G. waits in line at a Reykjavik post office, he spots Aron Cesar, a former romantic partner of Sara, G’s unrequited crush from 17 years ago. This chance encounter sparks unresolved resentment for G. and he decides to follow Aron with no real plan. Aron does not notice being observed during an aimless day: buying lunch at a grocery store, browsing a record store, making plans on the phone, watching a World Cup match in a bar. Every one of Aron’s actions provides G. with opportunities to mentally disparage him, especially their divergent reactions to a bawdy art house film. Each judgment lets slip the failures of G.’s own dead-end life: living off his parents in their basement and caught in a host of tiny, imagined crises by his needy mother. Ólafsson salvages an otherwise anticlimactic ending with a surprising realization on G.’s part that turns the tables. This amusing story will delight fans of narrators who humorously and unintentionally implicate themselves in their own derision, à la Ignatius J. Reilly of A Confederacy of Dunces. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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