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To me, DOWNFALL: A LOVE STORY is the finest novel Per Olov Enquist has written, among the ones I have read. Barely a hundred pages long, it may be said to be a sliver of a book compared to Enquist's immense, more recent LEWIS' TRAVEL, but that is precisely one of its most intriguing aspects. Regardless of its relative brevity, Enquist manages to establish several complex relationships, whose experiences provide the reader with insight and wisdom so beautifully expressed that I find myself rereading the book over and over and over. Like another, earlier Swedish author who is also among my favorites, Hjalmar Bergman, Enquist is able to formulate darker aspects of being human, of being alive and being mortal, in a poetic manner which feels far more uplifting than depressing. In fact, I meant to have found new meaning after I read this one the first time around. The story consists of tales from several distinct lives, seemingly without much relevance to one another, until their experiences, and the love, hatred, frustration and pretended hatred which somehow are common traits to all of the persons involved, lead us to the haunting ending which has not yet failed to tempt tears out of me. Although I guess not any kind of human being would do a search for DOWNFALL: A LOVE STORY, I still believe almost any kind of human being would get something out of reading the book, if they gave it a try.
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