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The latest in the series of my current reading on proto-fascists with handle-bar moustaches, this is hard going but enlightening as a direct link between Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Samuel Beckett who seem to be the closest in my mind. At root it is a very simple sketch of a young man who has hit hard times and is hungry and becomes fixated firstly with the external world and its impact upon him and then with the internal sensations and his body starts to deteriorate and cause him pain.
It is essentially a sketch - and to the extent that Hamsun turns his back entirely on the Victorian Realist tradition it does presage the more self-absorbed introspective excesses that became better crafted by the time that the Modernist school reached its zenith in Virginia Woolf and James Joyce .
However, it is hard-core reading in that you really have to know what you are looking for here - and will find it only in fits and starts, providing you are prepared to put the work in. Should reading fiction be hard work? Well, yes sometimes.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is an odd book, I hated the protagonist, his pride and foolishness are the driving forces for the novel. but watching his travails and his own assessment of them within the context of historic Christiania are very interesting. I would recommend as an antidote to unwarranted self pride and a glimpse into how low the human condition can go.
The description of the book gives the plot quite well, so I won't repeat it here. The book is very well written, and reminiscent of Dostoevsky or Kafka in its description of a man struggling to keep his self-dignity while losing his grip on reality, in this case due to lack of food. However, I think the book could have been better had there been more of a story or structure to it.
As for the narrator: he's clearly very good, but not the best choice for this book, I'm afraid. I found the following review of his work on another audiobook in AudioFile magazine, and I think it fits my impression perfectly: "Narrator Kevin Foley plods along with a listener-friendly cadence, something like that of a radio newscaster, avoiding high emotion or monosyllabic detachment--professional to the nth degree but adding little to a true and sad tale." I couldn't agree more. Especially in a first person narrative, I think the narrator should show a little more emotion; most of the time, Foley's tone sounds like the voiceover on a nature show, which made it harder to focus on the story. I generally don't like it when audiobook narrators use too much emotion or act the characters, but the narration here is just too detached.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Charles Bukowski mentioned "Hunger" and I remember being blown away by it when I read it as an impressionable 21 year old. I re-read it almost two decades later and its not 'all that.' I remember liking Growth of Soil and Pan much, much better. Wish some wild Norwegian would put it on audio.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful