"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Monday, November 19, 2012

Doppler by Erlend Loe (book review)

Author:  Erlend Loe
Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
Published:  2012 (this edition)
Publisher:  Anansi Press
Pages:  183
Genre:  fiction
ISBN  9781770893009
Source:  borrowed

After the death of his father, Andreas Doppler abandons his home, his family, his career, and the trappings of modern civilization to live in a makeshift tent in the forest.  There, he reluctantly adopts an orphaned moose-calf he names Bongo. Or is it Bongo who adopts him?  They soon grow to depend on each other in unusual and unexpected ways, and together they devote themselves to the art of survival with some surprising results.

Hilarious, touching, and poignant is the spirit of John Irving's best novels, Doppler is also deeply subversive and a strong criticism of modern consumer culture.

"Shamelessly charming." ~ Stavanger Aftenblad (Norway)

I chose to read Doppler as a recommendation and figured why not, it's a quick read?  Yes, it is, and an entertaining one at that.  It's like nothing I've ever read before.

A knock on the head following a cycling accident changes Andreas Doppler's view on his life.  No longer will he work for his living, abide by the social norms, pay taxes, nor even live in his house with his wife and two children.  Not for him any more, the socialization of society.  Now he hates people!  Oh, and his father died shortly before the accident and this too weighs on his mind.

Whether from a mental breakdown, or a rebellion toward the norms of society, it's hard to say, but I am sure some would admire Doppler's retraction from the world to live in a tent in the forest.  Is it unusual to want to leave the stress of life behind and live in a world where nothing is expected of you?  Where you can be bored and enjoy it?  Where your best friend is a moose calf whom you've adopted after killing the mother for food?  How odd is that?

It's a man's world of hunter-gatherer, roughing it in the wild, no niceties of civilization at hand which men will find highly entertaining.  I do understand his desire to escape.  While some do so with a vacation, Doppler doesn't do things half-way.  With humour, sometimes a bit crass, Doppler takes on his new life with relish.  As a woman, I enjoyed it.  Not just to laugh at men, which I did in Doppler,  (he has the most patient of wives!) but because I too sometimes want to escape the pressures of time and bills.  To go somewhere where no one knows me, where I am free to do my bidding as I wish, to relax and read and sleep.  That's a vacation or retirement.  Right?  The fact that Doppler takes it further than we would even imagine, playing games with a moose, building a totem pole in tribute to family, literally fighting for his right to be left alone; makes this book that much more unusual and entertaining.

Erlend Loe's Doppler is shameless, as Aftenblad said, and, in its own way unusually charming in an odd manner of speaking. Certainly good for a chuckle!  This is fiction, right?

Warning:  some language


  1. This sounds really intriguing. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  2. Kristen, please let me know how you like it if you do read it!


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