2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
What a curiously engaging tale. Somehow rivetting..,
This review is from: Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)Mattias doesn't want to be noticed. He wants to be the guy in the 37th car you pass on your way to work. He want to be a cog in the system
He could just as easily be the guy you see every day on the train, minding his own business reading his book or paper or whatever. You don't know him. You don't know anything about him except what you can see in front of you. You don't know where he's been, what he's done, why, who he's loved, who's loved him, what he's good at.
Mattias is good at gardening. He can also sing - better than anyone you've heard probably - but he doesn't want to do that because then he'll be noticed. Just like when he was at school... and look how that turned out.
I noticed his book because of it's curious title. I bought the book because the introduction intrigued me. 'A guy wakes up lying in the rain on a road in the Faroe Islands. He doesn't know how he got there'. OK, so how, why etc etc.
Because I did't read the introduction on Amazon thoroughly (I like the story to unfold without me having any preconcpetions of where it is going - you won't find spoilers here!) the story did not go where I was expecting at all. But I was absolutely drawn in.
Many have said that the first few pages were tough going. I actually loved the first part (as with all other parts of the book, named after a Cardigans album). The story of Mattias ends up in the Faroes is the first place is wonderful portrait of the everyman, the nowhere-man, the nobody. I'd say that almost anyone will be able to relate to Mattias in some way, you either empathise with him through shared experiences or you knew someone like him. He was a nice guy - not perfect, not always nice, but nice - quiet but nice. The story of his life up to this point is brilliant in it's normality - the picture painted beautifully and you geniunely feel for Mattias.
I was concerned, however, when the story got to he Faroes. I was not expecting the direction in which the story was taken, but the characters are painted so vividly you are drawn into their world and everything seems so normal - almost. Mattias may be the lead in the story, but best supporting role must go to the Faroes themselves. I found myself looking up the places on Google Earth and Wikipedia because I wanted to see these places for real that I was being drawn to imagine. They are what I saw in my mind - Harstad had transported me right there.
I should not have been concerned. What unfolds is a beautiful story. Every so often you feel that the author could have taken an easy turn and the plot would have become predictable, but it never goes that way. The pace remains slow adding to the realism, fitting the impression of Faroese life perfectly.
It's an oridinary life in which some slightly less than ordinary things happen. And it's beautifully written (and translated - the comments about it having been translated in American rather than English may be down to this being published by an American publisher... personally I didn't even notice, I was somewhere between Norway, Iceland and Shetland at the time!).
It's not a book for everyone. You won't find crime and murder and car chases and espionage... But I found myself genuinely looking forward to sitting down with Mattias to find out what was happening in his life - that oridinary life of the man who didn't want you to notice him. The man who wanted to be good at what he did, but to do something that wouldn't attract attention. The man who would let you pass and would be quite happy to be second man on the moon.