Year of publication:
“A joy to accompany on the journey“
But now. The rabulist with dystopian tales under the pseudonym of Abo Rasul, deepened the fairy tale tradition with the novel “Poveri”. This time I let myself be moved, also because Faldbakken uses such visually and stylistically precise language that you find yourself enjoying the individual sentences. An oral narrative style, as in folk tales, alternates with pungent irony in the descriptions of modern urbanity and the culture of money. Here we find both simple ashtrays and various emperors without clothes.
And hold? Bite?
Deep down there is a painful story of strangers. The story of Oskar, the adopted son and the servant simply called “guten”, who was sent to the farm of the landlord Blum after a troubled childhood. He was a taciturn but helpful type at the age of 19 when he received a monstrous sight. Thus begins the book: “Once upon a time, not long ago, a poor little boy crawled out of the forest. The young man tore the edge of the ditch and began to wander haphazardly along the dirt road. It was a sad sight. “
Are you an owner? An exchange? An animal? Matias Faldbakken already has a fairytale tone that brings the designs of Kittelsen and Werenskjold to the web. The description of the child is graphic; stiff blue lips, scared look on two crusted nostrils, oversized feet, wider knee joints than calves and thighs. Oskar makes a snare, captures the creature and takes it home to the boys’ room.
At home, the wild animal is washed, fed and gradually tamed. They discover that it is a girl. Oskar is put in charge of her and her wise helpers from her among the mill servants have some kind of mask made for her to calm her down. The landlord Blum and his wife want to keep the secret from the public, but call a doctor to diagnose the case. Note that the child is 18 years old and suffers from PD, psychosocial dwarfism. The child has different ages in one body, says the doctor: “We are looking at a childhood without witnesses.”
Secretly, the little girl grows up, learns to speak – certainly unstable and inconsistent – learns how to bake cookies, dye wool and how to hold the soup spoon in her right hand. “But be careful!” writes Faldbakken. “He secretly grabbed Oskar’s cock and took it.” Degenerates and one day the licentious couple is caught in the act. The law is invoked and comes in the form of a bearded sheriff who “he rocked on his heels and cleared his throat.”
Oskar and the girl flee into the forest, making their way through mountains, valleys and lakes. Faldbakken’s representations of nature in this sequence are extraordinarily beautiful. “Yes, that infinity of nothing that looks like a dome above us, to which the stars, the firmament are attached, has risen over the couple in the boat,” he writes of paddling quietly on a black pond.
There is a change of pace in the novel, both stylistic and temporal, when the couple first arrive in the capital Oslo. The fairytale style is replaced by ironic remarks of the vanity culture of modern city life. The city looks like “a profitable jungle” the “a creamy paint was smeared on everyone’s eyes”.
Tommy Blum hosts the couple in his apartment in an apartment building in Oslo and informs them that “this is where you go to lose yourself”. He is deformed, hunchbacked and lame and says his relationship with the Blum branch at the mill is broken. In return he became a master of the city, a “amanuensis, about to become a teacher”expert in the history of North American music and African literature from the south of the Sahara, particularly Angola and Congo.
The depictions of how Tommy drags the girl, who now introduces himself as Utskilde, around the city’s cultural salons, are dripping with poison. She becomes a cubist icon; people love that you swear, speak archaically and insult every other word. The city’s jesters circle Utskilde’s magnetic field. Faldbakken comments laconically: “Yes, it’s always nice to see vigorous people celebrate their health by sacrificing the time of the night.”
We won’t reveal any endings here, because no one will live happily ever after in Matias Faldbakken’s universe. But it was a joy to follow the journey.
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