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The Glitter Scene [Paperback]

Monika Fagerholm
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 9, 2011
Teenage Johanna lives with her aunt Solveig in a small house bordering the forest on the outskirts of a remote coastal town in Finland. She leads a lonely existence that is punctuated by visits to her privileged classmate, Ulla Bäckström, who lives in the nearby luxury gated community. It isn’t until Ulla tells her the local lore about the American girl and the tragedy that took place more than thirty years before that Johanna begins to question how her parents fit into the story. She sets out to unravel her family history, the identity of her mother, and the dark secrets long buried with her father. In the process of opening closed doors, others in the community reflect back on the town’s history, on their youth, and on the dreams that play in their minds. Soon a new story emerges, that stirs up Johanna’s greatest fears, but ultimately leads to the answers she is searching for. The Glitter Scene is a riveting mystery that explores the roles of truth and myth, reality and fiction, and the repercussions of family secrets.

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Editorial Reviews


“A dreamy, creepy, swirling of prose that eventually uncovers a story of love and violence in a coastal Finnish community.” —Shelf Awareness

“The conclusion of The American Girl narrative will delight fans of the series.” —Publishers Weekly

“Complex and interesting.” —Booklist

“Out of The American Girl’s elusive mysteries of time and creepy teenagers-in-trouble, Fagerholm triumphs with its sequel, The Glitter Scene, mining the not-quite-real or the too real evidence of sorrow that we forget we live by.”—Terese Svoboda, author of Bohemian Girl

The Glitter Scene balances on the ice-cold tones of David Lynch and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice . . . a remarkable story of guilt, revenge, and betrayal. A beautiful novel where the distance between blissful fantasy and grim reality is never very far.” —Smålands Posten

“With the same inimitable style as in the previous novel, Monika Fagerholm opens up a dizzying world full of secrets . . . It is intense and compelling.” —Västra Nyland

About the Author

Monika Fagerholm’s much-praised first novel, Wonderful Women by the Sea, became one of the most widely translated Scandinavian literary novels of the mid-nineties and was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 1998 it was followed by the cult novel Diva, which won the Swedish Literature Society Award. Her third novel, The American Girl, became a number-one
best seller and won the premier literary award in Sweden, the August Prize, as well as the Aniara Prize and the Gothenburg Post Award.
Katarina E. Tucker was born in the United States and raised bilingually with English and Swedish. She holds a doctorate in Scandinavian literature from the University of Wisconsin. In 2003 she won the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Translation Prize for her translation of Sven Deblanc’ Jerusalem’s Night. After dividing her time between Europe and North America, she now resides in the

Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press; Reprint edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590513053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590513057
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,627,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Unequal Sequel September 11, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Monika Fagerholm is a genius at a certain type of deep, eerie, numinously poetic type of writing best evinced in her tour de force The American Girl, a literary classic. The world is seen through a child's or early adolescent's eyes with a powerful, haunted feeling as if one were standing with one foot in a shifting dreamscape and one foot, tenuously, on solid earth. Here, in this overlong, over-written follow-up to her masterpiece she, frankly, attempts too much in the bewildering multiplicity of spiralling time-frames and remembrances; and, to cut to the chase, employs a technique in doing so that is not so much adapted from or reminiscent of, but rather an outright theft, from Faulkner.

Indeed, there are times whilst reading this book that, were it not for the Finnish names and localities, I would have become completely swallowed up in the feeling that I was reading a slight reworking of Absalom, Absalom! or Light in August, the two Faulkner works Fagerholm seems to draw on most. Again, it's not a matter of using a Faulknerian technique, it's a matter almost of copying Faulkner. And it doesn't work, anyway.

The problem is essentially that Fagerholm is not very good at describing the world from a grounded, functioning adult's point of view, much less at shifting from childhood to adulthood and back again, so out pops the Faulknerian crutch each time the perspective or time-frame shifts, each time, in other words, that Fagerholm attempts to grapple with memory and the past.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The structure of a folk song explains the overall structure of this novel, according to author Monika Fagerholm, with many repetitions through time and space, through past and present, and through new generations and old. Points of view constantly change among the many characters as the chronology moves between 1969 and 2012 and back. Bits of information are provided about one character in one section at one moment in time, contradicted in another section, and denied completely in yet another. Different characters go to the same places at different times and perform the same actions, but the results may be described differently, depending on who is telling the story.

If this sounds complex, it is. Finnish author Monika Fagerholm challenges the very nature of story telling in this novel, which has, at its heart, a series of dark mysteries which echo through more than one generation. The writing is self-conscious, resembling that of the modernist writers of the 1930s and 1940s, as the author tells every detail about every event (from one character's point of view at one point in time), then retells the same event from another's point of view. At other times, she also resembles writers of fantasy in her use of mysterious forces and in the nightmarish quality of some of the memories her characters reveal.

The story begins in 1967, in Hango, the southernmost tip of Finland, when Eddie de Wire, the American Girl, fell or was pushed from a cliff into the Bule Marsh, "the abode of suicide." Her teenage boyfriend Bjorn became a suicide shortly afterward.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars complicated Finnish murder mystery August 9, 2011
In 2004 in the District section on the First Cape lives teenager Johanna and her Aunt Solveig who earns a living as a realtor. Joanna misses her cousin Robin who she used to play with until the latter's mom took her with her when they moved. She spends time with classmate Ulla Backstrom, who tells her the tragic tale of The American Girl in the 1970s.

Fascinated in a macabre way Johanna investigates the decades old deaths with an emphasis on their connection to her family especially her parents. She wants to know who her mother is and why secrets were interred with her late father. Almost two decades after the tragedy that haunts the villagers, fifteen years ago before Johanna begins to tie the sad tale together in ways that stun her, Susette Packlen and Maj Gun Maalamaa become friends of sorts by their connection to the American Girl.

This convoluted complicated Finnish murder mystery grips fans of cerebral thrillers as the story line is not linear, but in fact a series of circles sort of like a Venn diagram that has the audience entering rings from different external points while like the prime protagonist try to connect to dots. The cast is moody which adds to the gloom and doom of the District as readers will not guess where Monika Fagerholm takes us in the aptly tidied The Glitter Scene.

Harriet Klausner
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So Monica writes in English? August 10, 2011
Why is there no mention of the talented translator who brought us this book in English? Though Finland is officially bilingual (in Finnish and Swedish), it's the translator's words we're reading. Shame on the publisher for not mentioning it.
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