cover image Encircling 2: Origins

Encircling 2: Origins

Carl Frode Tiller, trans. from the Norwegian by Barbara J. Haveland. Graywolf (FSG, dist.), $16 trade paper (456p) ISBN 978-1-55597-801-3

The second book of Tiller’s Encircling trilogy serves as a troubling contemplation of the havoc fragile masculinity can wreak. The book alternates between emails sent to central figure David, a Norwegian writer who has placed an ad asking those who once knew him to help him recover his memory, and the psychological drama of its multiple narrators’ caustic relationships. Ole grew up with David on the island of Otterøya; Tom Roger, who befriended him after he moved to the nearby town of Namsos, writes to him about their “business” stealing motorbikes. Ole has just had a child with Helen, who once dated Tom Roger and was beaten by him. He is ill-suited to accommodating the irritability Helen’s trauma has left her with, though, and believes she means to drag him “down into the black hole.” Meanwhile, Tom Roger is abusing a new girlfriend, even as he wonders, “How low can you get? I sicken myself.” The actions these warped perspectives lead to only make matters worse; but by closing his novel with a revelation from the midwife who delivered David, Tiller able to renew the reader’s interest in his mysterious protagonist by creating doubt about David’s amnesia, cleverly widening the scope of his project from a character study into an examination of artistic ethics. (Mar.)