"There were those who thought that Nina Faber should have won the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in the 1970s. In her own careful way she was a fine poet, but never sufficiently able to find the rhythm of the forced political times; when others wrote about Mao, Nina wrote about marsh helleborine, the pattern in the wings of the dragonfly and about the weather in cities she had never been to."
Nina is an ageing poet. Thanks to an award she has spent the past few years in Istanbul, where she completed her most recent poetry collection, entitled ‘Bosporos’. Back in Oslo she settles in a cottage in Sogn allotment garden and awakes early, on the day that will come to be her last. She waits for the editor to call and share the good reviews. But it doesn’t happen. Everything falls through, so Nina decides to take revenge.
In Taking Stock (Vareopptelling) Erlend Loe writes humorously and ironically about publishing procedures, the mature woman’s meeting with a new age, and about how much anger and bile there is in a woman of a certain age, spectacularly revealed when she makes the decision to take matters into her own hands.
‘The novel Taking Stock by Erlend Loe instantly reminds us all of the author’s obvious qualities. He is funny! Who but Loe would have cared to write about a lactose-intolerant hedgehog? No one, no one at all. Only Erlend Loe.’
‘Alternating sensitively between rebellion and a feeling of great unease about our culture, Erlend Loe tells the story of a human being who feels that everything fails to be what it should, in her own case and in the world at large. ... The novel is at its best when it describes her general, existential despair.’
DAG OG TID
‘It has become a narrative brim-full of nerve-tensing humour; sensitive, full of excitement and humbling ... In this tightly organised short novel of less than 130 pages, Loe offers us a dense and detailed introduction to settings, times and to a personality losing its grip, and thus, Vareopptelling becomes an elegant account of the slippery slope into disgrace and breakdown. But, in razor-sharp literary dissections, Loe manages also to turn humiliation into more than a driving force. Although written with a light keyboard touch, Taking Stock is also a serious analysis of the logic driven by an excessive sense of shame.’
‘A funny, burlesque and grotesque novel about the poet Nina Faber’s intense anger and robust retribution after a cruel review ... According to my own inventory of his writing, Loe has written his best novel since ‘Doppler’- both are also comparable in focusing on protagonists above the ordinary Norwegian standard. Recommended!’
‘He picks settings that he pictures with precision, and his funny passages are light-hearted, easy-going and enjoyable. Characterisation is sparse but sharply observed ... The plot sweeps along, told in a lively tone and at a fast tempo, with brilliantly absurd turns of phrase. Towards the end. Loe completely lets go of the reins, with a quite priceless outcome.’
‘It’s really great it is, Taking Stock. A darkly funny little story that takes each turns tightly. Concise and suggestive. Stunning finale. Recommended, if you have an afternoon or two to spare.’