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Its Fine by Me Paperback – November 1, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Paperback, November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As the new boy in high school, Audun refuses to remove his dark glasses (“I liked the distance they created”), and his wry, melancholy first-person, present-tense narrative nails how the teen’s defiance hides his fragility. Expelled from Boy Scouts, he knows he will never again join an organized group. Haunted by the death of his brother, Ergel, in a car accident, Audun remembers Ergel as “a pain in the ass,” never mind the priest’s “sentimental waffle” at the funeral. Like Petterson’s award-winning Out Stealing Horses (2007), featuring Audun’s friend Arvid, this story is as much about what is not spoken as it is about the angry daily detail (“It’s funny the things you don’t forget”). Much of the focus is on work, as Audun gets up early to run a paper route, then later quits school for a job in a printing press, until he is fired and cannot go home. The casual comments intensify the heartbreak: Why did his father leave? The spaces make the answers (or lack of them) universal. --Hazel Rochman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"* an intriguing story featuring all of the Petterson quirks - charm, melancholy, loneliness, the rifts between parents and children, the bonds between siblings and friends" Reading Matters "Beguiling and beautiful... It's a gripping and subtle coming-of-age story, ripe with melancholy...a graceful and moving novel" Daily Telegraph "This is a sharp, tough and often movingly observed story about growing up." -- Kate Saunders The Times "Executed with not only a magical attention to detail but also with heart-swelling affection... page after page of clear, glitchless and truthful writing" -- Neel Mukherjee Financial Times "A brilliantly vivid piece of storytelling" -- Mary Crockett Scotsman

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Export; Import edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846555469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846555466
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,558,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you use Ernest Hemingway's criteria - "all you have to do is write one true sentence" Per Petterson is profoundly gifted. I've marveled at the authenticity of his other books, particularly Out Stealing Horses and To Siberia. This one is newly translated and actually precedes the others; it was written in 1992.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What was it like to be a teenager in Oslo in 1970? For Audun Sletten, it's not a particularly pleasant life. He's a sullen young man, prone to drunkenness and apathy, and already quite defeated for one so young. We learn some of what made him that way as he alternates between present and past tense, telling stories from his 13th year in 1965 and his 18th year in 1970.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So as I get ready to go into the delivery room with my wife for the 4th time I've had a chance to read "It's Fine By Me". It's an excellent distraction with high quality writing and an interesting character driven reflective story.

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.
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