March 27, 2012

Stories That Stick

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:56 pm
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In high school, I had to read Hanne Ørstavik‘s Kjærlighet (Love) for class. I hated every page. It was filled with oppression and an impending sense of bad things coming, and once we hit the end, my 17-year-old, hardcore gothic self couldn’t stand the thought of the end of the story. Couldn’t face it. In the class discussion, the teacher had to spend ten minutes convincing me that the story couldn’t be read in two ways, that the ending I’d imagined as too gruesome, was in fact the right one.

I hated it.

But as the years passed and I read book after book after book, Hanne Ørstavik’s Kjærlighet stuck with me. Scenes from that book are as vivid in my head now as they were ten years ago, and I can’t say that about many books I’ve read. The more I think about it, the more I respect what Ørstavik did with the story. The use of two points of view, the utter believability of both characters, the understated hints at the horror going on just under the surface, all of it came together to make a truly memorable and powerful narrative.

Sure, Kjærlighet has about as much cheer in it as Snow Angels, but there’s something impressive about a story that sticks. Even if I didn’t like what the book had to tell me, I’ve carried the tale with me for ten years. I hope someone will one day say the same about my writing.

Which books have you read that stuck with you? And did you like them?



  1. I had a similar experience with Moby Dick. It drove me nuts reading page after page, knowing the impending scenario was to come when Ahab would confront the whale… I kept thinking, does this book really need hundreds of pages. But I could never stop reading it. In some ways I hated it but I was also mesmerized by the dynamics of the characters, the subtle tension and exploring this unknown sea-faring world. I, too, was 16 when I read it. 16 years later, the story clearly stuck but the more I think about it, the more I think I like it. I suppose I’ll never know for sure until I reread it, perhaps next year.

    Comment by Samir — March 28, 2012 @ 5:40 am | Reply

    • “In some ways I hated it but I was also mesmerized by the dynamics of the characters”
      That is exactly it! And well put too.

      Perhaps I have to reread Love, as well.

      Comment by nascentnovelist — March 29, 2012 @ 8:36 am | Reply

  2. […] novelist.  When you have a chance, please step over to her blog and read her most recent piece on Stories That Stick or any of a number of […]

    Pingback by Your Inspirations Welcomes Martine Svanevik « A Garden of Delights — April 2, 2012 @ 12:24 am | Reply

  3. Hi, I am actually trying to find out if this novel was translated in English. Could you please let me know? So far I have not found it on the market in the United Kindgom. Thank you, Gabriela

    Comment by Gabriela — April 10, 2012 @ 8:10 am | Reply

    • I wish I could help you, but I’ve tried to find it myself, with no luck. 😦

      Hope you find someone who knows where they have it!

      Comment by nascentnovelist — April 10, 2012 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

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