Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Growth of the Soil" by Knut Hamsun

Goes on the bookshelf between Dashiell Hammett and Joseph Heller.

Damn, it's nice to read something that has some scope to it.

Young man trundles into the countryside, builds a crappy hut, starts farming. Harelipped woman becomes his wife, sires two sons and a daughter, kills daughter because she too has harelip. Man's farm gets bigger. Other assholes move to countryside, begin settling. Everybody gets old. The characters you hate most (Oline, Brede Olsen) play off each other. Yeah.

Having read this, now I know what it's like to be a man, and to carry the weight of family.

Only from literature.

This book doesn't have many tough words in it. I'd recommend it to people who wanted to like "Love in the Time of Cholera" but couldn't get past the fancy writing (Bukowski fans?). While the subjects are very different, both books are fascinating in how they are able to cover a lifespan. Like, how is a younger writer with confidence able to write about the inner working's of a man's mind from youth to old age? How could an old man be able to remember all that detail? I'm humbled by books like this.

This guy Hamsun sounds like a real bastard. Nazi sympathizer maybe. I'd like to read his first book, "Hunger."

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