cover image A Postcard for Annie

A Postcard for Annie

Ida Jessen, trans. from the Danish by Martin Aitken. Archipelago, $18 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-953861-22-1

Jessen (A Change in Time) returns with a meticulously crafted collection showcasing her trademark psychological realism. In “Mother and Son,” a woman’s troubled son falls in with a group of violent boys and befriends an old man in the countryside who owns some horses. The story peaks with an act of violence followed by unspoken forgiveness. In the vignette “An Argument,” Jessen paints a convincing portrait of a couple’s relationship losing steam. In “An Excursion,” a woman renowned for her work as a furniture upholsterer meets a stylish man at an antique fair. In the title story, the witnesses of a fatal bus accident attempt to move on with their lives. These are quiet dramas, and even when emotions rise to the surface, they do so in a subtle, simmering fashion. Sometimes Jessen’s simplicity veers into the mundane, but for the most part it’s elevated by beautiful construction as her characters face universal conflicts. There’s also something of a celebration of Danish culture going on, with copious descriptions of, for instance, fried herring and lovely small towns. Jessen offers myriad if quiet delights. (June)