The heroine of Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is a forty-year old single woman who is finally learning to drive, although it’s not clear that she will ever earn a driver’s license. She sustains an unending inner monologue on whether she is good enough at anything, not just driving, and pines for her childhood in rural Denmark. All that leads nowhere besides well-observed ruminations, so not enough action for my taste but might work for other readers.
What My Body Remembers starts like a standard story of a single mother on welfare, struggling to deal with a mysterious psychiatric disorder while trying hard not to allow her son to be taken away from her, but quickly turns into the investigation of the death of her mother, killed when she herself was a little girl, which started her chaotic and violent journey through the foster care system. She will eventually untangle the responsibility of her father, who was convicted of murdering her mother, with the help of various residents of the small village where she grew up — to a dramatic finale.
I had to try hard to ignore the plot holes (would you race to what you know is a very dangerous scene without alerting the police?) but the psychological complications of the plot are delightful.
The Dinosaur Feather opens with a dead university professor and a very angry graduate student — not because her advisor is dead, per se, but rather because her thesis was weeks away and the incident is derailing her plans. A curious police investigator uncovers a dreadful exotic parasite (not Schistosoma, for you family followers, but Shistosoma is duly contemplated and described before being exonerated) and virulent departmental hatreds that merit more than cursory investigation. And then it gets complicated, with personal and professional entanglements, not to mention an episode with the Copenhangen S&M community.
The whole thing does not quite work, at least for me. The science is not quite right, it seems, and the personal stories are weirdly stuck in inexplicable rages. The most entertaining side story may well be the S&M adventures… All in all, not a complete success.
Doghead is the story of a Norwegian-Danish boy with a wacky family that includes an alcoholic father, a grandfather with an uncertain past, and several young men who took to the seas since they definitely did not fit in. Children are brought up in decidedly hands-off, sometimes cruel ways but manage to find their ways for the most part, at least the narrator does, despite his family’s failings. There are moments when the systematic wackiness of the family feels forced, or perhaps feels like a remake of some Garcia-Marquez novel bizarrely set in the frozen North, and while the coming of age of young Asger kept my attention throughout I would not recommend the book beyond its obvious readability.