May 2019 NYRB Selection
Look at that cover. What’s not to love?
And then you have lines like this, “I looked at the two herrings, the two herrings looked a me, and none of us said anything” (25).
On one level the story is about a man and his lover going on vacation to Sweden. One the other hand is it that or the story the character wrote about two people going on vacation.
Then it is also a story of saving a child from an ogre.
There is humor in this story, this fairy tale about a tale. The names that are assigned to various kings are amusing. There is Adolphus the Unshaven, for instance.
There are comments about gender, “. . . you women take what you do seriously -that’s your undeniable advantage over the rest of us” (68).
It is strange reading this book so shortly after reading a Calvino work because there is still a strange sense of otherworldliness, of not quite knowing what it is going.
But that is also vacation.
The story is almost two because there is the child who becomes the child that the vacationing couple could have and therefore must rescue. It makes an interesting if weird little quest. It is almost like you are entering the picture on the cover, a weird castle and forest where almost anything goes. And anything does go, it appears. The dog, the girl, the romance, the woman who appears out of no where. It is a fable of fables.
But not quite.
It is a lovely read however.