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It's Fine By Me: A Novel Hardcover – October 2, 2012
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“It's Fine By Me . . . convey[s] those ordinary experiences close to Petterson's heart: the pleasure, for example, in the midst of domestic strife, of slowly and very carefully rolling a good cigarette, brewing the perfect coffee and settling down on the sofa with a fine book, like this one.” ―The Guardian
“It's Fine By Me is many things--an engaging coming-of-age tale, a writer's halting journey and a story of family drama and the inevitable stages of grief. With Audun Sletten Petterson has created a hero with gutsy resilience and a nose for the truth of things. You'd like to meet him on a street in your own home town.” ―The Scotsman
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a melancholy coming of age story and it helps to know that two years before he wrote it, Petterson's parents and brother were killed in a Norwegian ferry tragedy. Likely, the author is channeling the sadness and alienation and he does it very well.
As in other Petterson books, the story runs forward and back in time. We meet the 13-year-old narrator Audun Stetten on his first day in a new school. Despite the headmaster's urging, he refuses to remove his sunglasses, claiming he does not want to show his scars. In that one simple scene, the reader learns a lot about Audun: that he is self-protective and secretive and that he may carry scars that make it impossible for him to reveal himself to others. Put another way, he's sort of a "shady character."
Nothing all that much happens; this is not a book for fans of linear plots and action stories. Instead, it's a deep look into the mind and heart of a boy growing up in Norway and as in previous books, the cold and sometimes unforgiving landscape is very much part of the story.
The writing style goes from sparse to lyrical and back again as the story runs through some familiar Petterson themes: the yearning and rejection of connection, the need to make it on one's own terms, the tough emotional road to growing up. Behind it all is the terror of an abusive father and the true scars that abuse leaves behind.Read more ›
I have very much enjoyed some of Per Petterson's other novels, but I had to force myself to finish this one. The prose is up to Petterson's usual standards and the translation is excellent, but IT'S FINE BY ME is essentially plotless. The 1970 Audun drinks a lot, gets in fights, wanders the city aimlessly, and plays at radical politics. He goes to school, then drops out to take a dead-end job where he can't seem to stay out of trouble. He grieves for a lost brother, and lives in fear of the return of his abusive, alcoholic father. Audun's stories from 1965 give us more insight into the family dynamics that made him the way he is. I enjoyed the stories from his younger self a little more because he hadn't yet given up on the world and himself. He was still participating and trying to enjoy life.
If you've read IN THE WAKE and I CURSE THE RIVER OF TIME, you'll enjoy seeing Arvid Jansen as a youngster in this book. He's Audun's only friend, and he was the one bright spot in the story for me. Arvid sees Audun for what he truly is. He tells him, "Do you know something, Audun. Nothing's fine by you. Absolutely nothing." And he's right. We can only hope Audun will overcome some of his anger and stop keeping the world at bay. Otherwise he's doomed to remain miserable and directionless.
Those with a low tolerance for foul language may want to steer clear of this novel. The cursing is not excessive, but it's realistically regular throughout the book.
The book opens in 1965 and is primarily about the years of 1965 through 1970, though not in sequential order. The boys like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin. They have the names of their favorite rock stars engraved on their boots. Audun is a loner and befriending Arvid is a big change in his life.
Audun comes from a very violent and dysfunctional family. His younger brother drowned two years ago when the car he was driving drove into the water. Audun's mother has recently left their alcoholic father who has been cruel and violent to everyone in the family. She now has a friend who comes over on Sundays to listen to opera with her. Audun's sister is involved with an abusive boyfriend.
This is not a book where a lot happens externally. It is a series of thoughts, feelings and inner experiences. Both of the boys read a lot and are interested in the socialist movement of the time. Ironically, Audun wants to be a writer while he is also contemplating dropping out of school. He loves Hemingway, Tolstoy, Gorky and Jack London. As he argues to himself, not all of them finished school.
The writing is poetic and strong. Speaking tangentially about his father Audun says, "If you're an alcoholic you're out of control. If you have no control, you are finished. Then you spend the rest of your days walking through the valley of the shadow of death.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Never so bored. Had great difficulty sticking with it until the end.Published 7 months ago by Margot
somewhat interesting book. Well developed characters. Good writing style.Published 8 months ago by Anne C. Wolff
Good book but was much too short for the cost. Will think before ordering another book for 8 plus dollars. Read morePublished 17 months ago by jane
This the fourth Per Petterson novel I've read. He's a marvelous writer. His books are lyrically written with vivid but not overwritten scenes and keenly drawn emotions. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Hartford refugee
Not an "out stealing horses" class but, rather, an in the moment style. This really caught my interest with the seamless back flashes and the short, punctuated action... Read morePublished 22 months ago by SUNA properties
What a disappointment. This book was like reading a first grade reader. So much of the book is "I wash my hands. I walk into the living room. It is a nice day.. Read morePublished 24 months ago by VICKY
What a writer, sparse and expressive. Per Petterson never disappoints. Mature coming of age story, anybody can identify with this boy.Published on July 9, 2013 by C. Templeton
At first blush, this is a heartbreaking coming-of-age novel, which takes place in a small town in Norway. When we meet Auden, he is 13. Read morePublished on June 2, 2013 by thewanderingjew