Unformed Landscape

Unformed Landscape

Book - 2004
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Unformed Landscape begins in a small village on a fjord in the Finnmark, on the northeastern coast of Norway, where the borders between Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia lie covered in snow and darkness, where the real borders are between day and night, summer and winter, and between people. Here, a sensitive young woman like Kathrine finds few outlets for her desires. Half Norwegian, half Sami (an indigenous people), Kathrine works for the customs office inspecting the fishing boats arriving regularly in the harbor. She is in her late 20s, has a son from an early marriage, and has drifted into a second loveless marriage to a man whose cold and dominating conventionality forms a bold stroke through the unformed landscape of her life. After she makes a discovery about her husband that deeply wounds her, Kathrine cuts loose from her moorings and her confusion and sets off in search of herself.

Her journey begins aboard a ship headed south, taking her below the Arctic Circle for the first time in her life. Kathrine makes her way to France and has the bittersweet experience of a love affair that flares and dies quickly, her starved senses rewarded by the shimmering beauty of Paris. Through a series of poignant encounters, Kathrine is led to the richer life she was meant to have and is brave enough to claim.

Using simple words strung together in a melodic alphabet, Peter Stamm introduces us, through a series of intimate sketches, to the heart of an unforgettable woman. Her story speaks eloquently about solitude, the fragility of love, lost illusions, and self-discovery.
Publisher: New York : Handsel Books, c2004
ISBN: 9781590511404
Branch Call Number: PT2681.T3234 U6413 2004
Characteristics: 161 p. ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Hofmann, Michael 1957 Aug. 25-


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Apr 19, 2017

Overall, I found this book overwhelmingly negative in that practically every character was leading such a bleak and flawed existence with no hope in site.

Perhaps if I were able to read this book in the original language I would not have found the flow of the prose so stilted and difficult to follow. Maybe I would have been able to empathize with the main character had her background been fleshed out enough to understand the childhood history behind her lack of basic human substance. Instead I kept reading hoping this self absorbed young woman would get her act together. But she never does.

She stays in a bad marriage because she's too lazy and motivated to change things. Then she screws around on her husband publicly and when she's found out she drains the bank account and walks away from her kid...and her job not even concerned about the child's welfare...to "find herself".

Then when the money runs out, she has the audacity to simply show up again expecting everyone to accept her back (with no repercussions). Her kid, her mother(whom she dumped the kid on) and her old boss (who even gives her the job back).

Does she redeem herself with her kid? Nope. She "allows" him go to a wonderful birthday party with the X (the only father he's ever known) only to drag him out the door with no explanation in the middle of opening his presents. She didn't even buy him a present herself.

That poor kid. This book made me so mad.

But then I'm one of those who read for enjoyment and an escape from reality so I don't want to find myself amidst profound negativity and pathos.


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