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Tales of Love & Loss Paperback – April 1, 2007
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The 20 stories in this collection are all sketches of different personalities in different settings. From Norway to the New World and then back to the Old, we encounter a variety of characters. We meet an unsuccessful lecturer, a man with a talent for spending other people's money, a man in the midst of the Paris uprising, a father who sets out to teach his wayward son a lesson about gambling, a woman who knew how to out-fox her scheming husband, a prairie cook who got even in the cruelest of ways, a woman whose life was changed forever by an otherwise forgettable event, and many others.
I got a kick traveling over the Mayan countryside in Yucatan while reading a Norwegian writer tell a tale that took place in my home state of North Dakota. Hamsun shows some of his gift for the bizarre side of the human psyche but most of the stories seem to be people and events he knew or stories he heard first hand.
I have read 8 novels of Hamsun and have looked forward to reading more. However, I had come to near the end of the rope of those available in English. (If I had known about Hamsun when I was in college, I wouldn't have dropped Norwegian after one semester). Two years ago or so I couldn't find any books by Hamsun that I didn't already have. He apparently is undergoing a rebirth of popularity because there seemed to be more books available now than I thought he had written. Many will cite "Hunger" or "Mysteries" as his best but my favorite is still "Growth of the Soil". I'm looking forward to aquiring some of these new releases while they last. If I'm not mistaken, there should be one more collection of short stories out there. After reading "Tales of Love and Loss", my appetite is whet.
Hamsun train spotters will notice character and plot linkages between these stories and several of the novels. In general, even though I really enjoyed the volume I am not sure that it is where I would begin with Hamsun. He was primarily a novelist, and as good as these stories are I have to think that they are to some degree benefiting from the reflected light of his greater works.