I love silly book characters because they get away with charmingly naughty things that would probably bury them in real life. Let’s take the main character in Erlend Loe‘s latest book, “Inventory”: she’s on the right path to becoming a serial killer but if we told it to her face, not only would she deny it passionately, she’d actually go as far as to accuse everyone and everything else but her for the unfortunate events, among which is(are) death(s), that contrive to ruin her day.
I love Loe’s Nina Faber. She’s a poet, crazy with age (over sixty years!) and lack of literary fame that she thinks unjustly bypassed her. The novel follows Nina’s attempt to return to the literary scene after years of anonymity and alcoholism, and everything happens on the day her new poetry collection gets published. On her way to a few places that are to host her reading session, she fails to control her anger at biased and cruel critics, students that have no knowledge of poetry but still gladly accept to write about it, managers of libraries that won’t risk bad publicity for promoting failed artists, etc. Though obviously deranged, I so much enjoyed Nina and her freedom that came with her demented behavior. 😀
Perhaps the most amusing part for me was when Nina ties the naughty student-critic who wrote a very mean review of her poems and starts reciting lines of poetry, asking him to recognize each poet. He knows not one and she continues to interrogate him, not able to grasp how one can live with so much emptiness in his mind.
Though I see some people shake their heads at Erlend Loe’s newest novel, because it is a bit different from some of his previous works that they love, I am not a bit disappointed. “Inventory” has those few elements that I value the most in every piece of writing: 1) interesting sentence, 2) humor and 3) a strong, captivating main character, so after finishing the last line and closing the book, I could only lament over its briefness (shame on Erlend for writing only about a 100 pages of fabulous Nina Faber).