cover image I Is Another: Septology III–V

I Is Another: Septology III–V

Jon Fosse, trans. from the Norwegian by Damion Searls. Transit, $17.95 trade pap

Fosse continues to wend his way through the mind of Asle, a painter living on the west coast of Norway, in the impressive follow-up to The Other Name. Asle is gray-haired, widowed, and lives alone in a cabin by the sea. As he goes about his day, he imagines his younger selves as others, encountering them in memories and, perhaps, alternate versions of his own life. Another Asle appears first as a child, bereaved by the death of his sister and fighting with his difficult mother, then as a teen who develops a strong revulsion for painting idyllic landscapes; he’d rather paint from inner visions: “his head is full of pictures, it’s a real torment.” Young-adult Asle applies to art school while present-day Asle wonders if he’s done with painting entirely, and how he might understand himself without the desire to paint. Asle is a gentle, somewhat fretful narrator, and Fosse masterfully arranges the strands of the different narratives as they lap against each other and occasionally contradict. The result is meditative and cyclical, yet surprisingly accessible. (Mar.)