The Discoverer by Jan Kjærstad
My rating: 5/5 cats
as the kids say: OMFG.
i am sitting here, stunned BY A BOOK!! it’s like all of a sudden, everything in my life makes sense. although, it was probably a good idea to take a break to read under the dome right in the middle of this trilogy. i was, quite frankly, getting a little sick of jonas wergeland, and the pause was useful in giving me some much-needed space from his claustrophobic life. plus, the contrast certainly did not hurt kjaerstad. it’s just that jonas wergeland is a character packed to the tits (sometimes with tits) with anecdotes and events and prophecies and weighted moments and perfectly-stated sentences and adoring masses. it was just too full of… stuff. and it’s not that i want to read about his downtime, but it is truly exhausting to read so much thick and meaningful prose, where every sentence has weight and resonance. it is wonderful but it makes the head spin with excitement and emotional overload. a little goes a long way.
and by now, in the trilogy, you have become accustomed to the flow of ideas; one story leaching into another in a more-concrete-than-stream-of-consciousness-but-still-unexpected-association kind of way. but oh, god – so many parts of this book: the longest, most woefully nostalgic kiss of all time, margrete’s relationship to reading and books-as-objects, missed opportunities, samarkand… so many moments of, yes, discovery.
but i still need someone to tackle writing that chronology. even with all the contradictions, which are necessary because of the nature of these three books, maybe some kind of three-pronged timeline – just to see it all at once… this is very packed storytelling, like proust but less willfully verbose, less languid, and more overtly erotic. at the end i was creating distractions (mostly involving goodreads.com) just so i wouldn’t get to the end too quickly.
there are so many bookmarks in this copy – so many quotes i was going to transfer into this review, but i just can’t. because again, and i seriously regret what i am about to say – this book needs to be discovered by the reader. it is the culmination of two book’s worth of reading that becomes (mostly) crystallized in this concluding work. and it is so fucking worth it! there are some jaw-droppingly good moments in this third one. this is an astonishing book. i want to copy pages 230-232 and just read them every day, for example…i started typing every quote i liked out onto this, but they lose their impact when taken out of the whole. no one goes to the museum to look at a dinosaur’s shin bone.
a seriously good book will flash with energy that reminds you of other things you like; layers and layers of association and self-reflection, and this one, for me, had moments of following (the movie), infinite jest, and one big-time tess/angel clare moment. even though tess is my least favorite hardy, parts of it still have his genius, and the echo in this book is heartbreaking and perfect and made me wish books could make me cry.
(and i don’t know what greg is talking about, but buddha is a character with as much screen-time as johnny horne in twin peaks. or michael k. williams in the hulk (okay, that’s not fair – michael k. williams in miracle at st. anna) sheesh. i kept wondering if i was missing something. but no, i am not.)
i am just wagging my little doggy tail right now and not really saying anything – is it okay to just use review-space to gush?
i have nothing to say about this book because it says everything.
please have your own trilogy month.