Reviews

Knots: Stories by Gunnhild Øyehaug, Kari Dickson

herm333s's review against another edition

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4.0

I started out loving this anthology at the beginning. Stories about an anxiety attack at IKEA, an uncuttable umbilical cord that forever ties a mother and her child, and the witnessing of a child holding a stone and lunging into frozen water; from whom we learn of in an annotation.

By the middle part and subsequent stories, I kept feeling pulled apart between enjoyment and annoyance. In some occasions I felt the narrative to be either "lost in translation" or coming from such a personal, creative place within the author that it became an impediment to my possible appreciation.

Without a doubt though, I was fascinated by Øyehaug's writing style. Her use of run on sentences and omniscience gave the reading experience a similar style to stream of consciousness. As one of her reviewers points out, I believe she achieves this by a profound knowledge (or as the result of a deep appreciation) of consciousness. And this is precisely what made them so relatable for I had never before experienced such likeness to the transit of my thoughts as I did through multiple of her characters.

By the end of the book I encountered the "story": "The Object Assumes an Exalted Place in the Discourse". It was here that I settled on my feelings towards the book. It is ingenious and sweet and hectic and new, very human, very real. In "The Object Assumes...," I believe the author exposes here the thesis for her approach to creative writing and the reason for her narrative style.

There are knots everywhere. In human or alien relationships, in family, sex, in animals existential crisis. In my feelings there was tightness and looseness, in her writing was confusion and clarity. And in these stories fantasy, abstraction and reality are all interwoven.

"Sometimes when you read, it's like certain sentences strike home and knock you flat. It's as if they say everything you have tried to say, or tried to do, or everything you are. As a rule, what you are is one simmering endless longing."

alexandrawern's review against another edition

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emotional funny inspiring lighthearted mysterious reflective relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

ccilie's review against another edition

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2.0

Jeg elskede den ikke, øv. Én af novellerne, “To og to”, stak positivt ud for mig. Jeg følte at den ramte noget af det, de andre forsøgte på, men mislykkedes med. En speciel humor, konstant med stik af metalag og aldrig helt klar til at tage sig selv alvorligt nok. Halvvejs igennem var jeg klar til at give den tre stjerner, men sidste halvdel kedede mig så meget, at det trækker en stjerne fra.

pickle_burner's review against another edition

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challenging funny medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? N/A
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

This is an uneven collection. There are many moments of brilliance, even in translation, where you feel as though the author has captured something essential and new. The first story, "Nice and Mild," and the fantastical tale, "Small Knot," were exciting and well executed. But there was also quite a bit of "fucking around" in this collection -- short pieces that were almost entirely conceptual in nature, somewhat like written performance art, pieces that could be called "clever," but which lacked (for me at least) any emotional heft. Fortunately, many of the stories in this collection are but a few brief pages, so if you don't like something, it goes by quickly, and before you know it, you're onto the next thing. Many of the stories are connected, have recurring characters who are looking at similar happenings from slightly different perspectives, and while that is mostly handled with delight and care, it doesn't always land and isn't quite enough to lift up the entire collection. I know fuck-all about Norwegian, so I have no idea how close Kari Dickson's translation was, but the prose had good rhythm and was solid. Major kudos to Dickson for providing something with character, verve, and momentum. I happened to pick this up randomly at my library, and I'm glad I did. This will be well suited to those with a taste for the experimental and contemporary. 

undermeyou's review against another edition

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4.0

A lot of these were 5 star pieces. Quite a few were just a bit too unremarkable for me.

emelynreads's review against another edition

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mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

2.0

I liked 4 stories out of the collection hence the low rating. I'm not sure I understand this author's writing style. 

bushrasbookbabbles's review against another edition

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Weird and boring 

wabisabigio's review against another edition

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challenging dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A

3.0

megansoetaert's review against another edition

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fast-paced

3.75

i don’t normally love short story collections, but i enjoyed this one! it was very fast paced- many of the stories were only a few pages long. 

favorite stories: it’s raining in love, grandma is sleeping, vitalie meets an officer 

themes: mundanity, love, human connection, desire, anxiety

lifeinpoetry's review against another edition

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Not for me. I'd seen this collection on several lists, was curious and found (yet again) that much like most prose poetry, flash fiction doesn't hold my interest.