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RubyTombstone

Bloody Shambles

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The Seducer

The Seducer - Jan Kjærstad, Barbara Haveland "How do the pieces of a life fit together?"This is the central question posed by Kjærstad throughout this book, and answered in full. By using a mysterious third person narrator to tell stories about the life of the central character, Jonas Wergeland, Kjærstad not only tells us how the pieces of a life fit together, he shows us over and over again. A number of recurring images and themes are used to great effect, including: the circle/spokes/tangent, the turtle with a world on the back of his shell, the pipe organ, granite, coltsfoot, persian rugs and the transformative nature of sex - which tie the stories together. Eventually, the themes are woven together tightly enough to describe Wergeland's life in a way that is more rich and meaningful than any linear narrative could achieve. Kjærstad does all of this masterfully, in a way that is straightforward and not heavy-handed.I do find it strange that the book's title is "The Seducer" - the character as a seducer of people being one of the least prolific and least cogent of all the recurring themes. Presumably the next instalments of the trilogy, [b:The Conqueror|6013311|The Conqueror|Jan Kjærstad|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327903898s/6013311.jpg|1796173] and [b:The Discoverer|3264212|The Discoverer|Jan Kjærstad|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348674245s/3264212.jpg|1734987], will shed some light as to why these aspects of the life in question were chosen as the focal point. This book could easily have been called "The Meaning of Life" and not been an exaggeration.I must admit, it took me a while to settle into this. At first I found the tone to be a little too smug and prim. As the pieces of the puzzle began to come together though, I started enjoying it a lot more. That said, I didn't find myself itching to pick the book up again once I had put it down for the day. Initially I rated the book 4 stars on the basis that I didn't find it as enjoyable to read as some, however, I'm finding myself thinking back to the points the book makes. I suspect that some of these ideas have been indelibly imprinted on my brain, so I have upped my score.A tip to anyone picking up Kjærstad for the first time too - read quickly. Don't pore over every word in every very long sentence (and they are very long), and you'll find a rhythm and momentum that really add something to the book's charm.A highly recommended, unique reading experience.PS - I got to write this status update while reading The Seducer, which made me very happy:I've just learned that one of those fur hats with the earflaps is called a "bjørnefitte" in Norway - literally a "bear-twat". This has made my week.