Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe from Norway

This book is probably not out in English, but it's likely it will be, since it's been getting lots of favourable reviews and the Finnish translation came out quickly, so the author's agents are doing their work very well. Nikolaj Frobenius (who scripted the original Insomnia) is a Norwegian author and one of his earlier novels was about Marquis de Sade's servant who can't feel pain. His newest novel, Jeg skal vise dere frykten (I Will Show You Fear, if I know my Norwegian well enough), called Pelon kasvot / The Face of Fear, in Finnish, is about Edgar Allan Poe and his battle with anthologist Rufus Griswold, and also about his battle with a mysterious serial killer who seems to duplicate Poe's tales, especially "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (that's the story we all want to duplicate, right?).

The book hovers somewhere between a gimmicky serial novel and a serious literary novel, not making up its mind which it wants to be. There are several good moments in the book and Frobenius has Poe's moods down well. He has also done his homework on Poe and even his lesser-known writings, such as Eureka, and especially on obscure American authors of the 1840s. Still Jeg skal vise dere frykten feels only like a gimmicky serial killer novel. If it winds up translated in English and you're a fan of Poe, try it. It's not a bad novel in any way.

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