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Its Fine by Me Paperback – November 1, 2011
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|Paperback, November 1, 2011||
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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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.
Auden Sletten is a big boy. He uses his brawn and aspires to use his brain. He admires Hemingway and Jack London and quotes Anna Karenina. He's loyal to the few friends he has. He is protective and sensitive.
He's grown up with a largely abusive father and a mother who's kind but largely lost in poverty and personal misery. Within the turmoil which is gradually revealed Per Petterson creates bit of a womb around Auden. Characters flow in to his life almost like guardian angels. There is just enough empathy and care to carry him through events that may otherwise crush a young soul.
If I had not read a bit of Studs Terkel perhaps I would have been a bit more cynical about whether characters like Auden are real enough to carry a novel. One might question whether his circumstances and environment could yield a person that is not only literate but self aware, sensitive and political but it's believable to me and he is equally capable of making the bad decisions that immediately reflect his youth and immaturity. Petterson has written a story that I much enjoyed about a relatable young man that appears to be struggling on his own and yet somehow draws out of people a desire to help him (albeit briefly) on his journey to adulthood.
We know he'll pay a price for some of his mistakes but that's for another day. For now we're reading a story about an 18 year old boy somewhat flashing back to his years growing up. It's 1970.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Never so bored. Had great difficulty sticking with it until the end.Published 12 months ago by Margot
somewhat interesting book. Well developed characters. Good writing style.Published 14 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 23 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 on June 11, 2014 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 on April 1, 2014 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 on February 10, 2014 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