It's Fine By Me by Per Petterson
|It's Fine By Me by Per Petterson|
|Genre: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: Audun is one helluva troubled teenager. His broken family life sees him as a less-than-ideal pupil at his new school but he does have some redeeming qualities.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 208||Date: November 2011|
|Publisher: Harvill Secker|
|External links: Author's website|
We see Audun start his new school in Oslo. The building, the classrooms, the teachers, even the other pupils all seem to scare him. He refuses to conform and insists on wearing his sunglasses - indoors. It's not an affectation though, apparently he has some facial scarring around his eyes.
We learn that Audun lives in a rather run-down area of Oslo with his mother. Just the two of them. His father is a drinker and after some frightening drunken episodes in the past, his parents have decided to split up. So his father is not only absent but also a rather shadowy figure in his life. We find out all about the key moments in Audun's past as he chats to new friends. As you can imagine, these chats are very much stop-start affairs with lots of awkward silences etc but then again, you could say this is normal for teenager boys.
Petterson tells his story in a straightforward manner with no, or very little, fancy language. It's all very ordinary. The story itself I found to be ordinary too and consequently about half-way through reading the book, I felt as I was treading water a little. I also felt that the storyline was not sufficiently original and fresh to keep me fully engaged.
It's really about all the usual teenage stuff that we've heard many times already. Audun has his vices: his copies of 'Playboy', a sly smoke and a drink or two too many when he has the cash. All part of normal growing up wouldn't you say and nothing really to write home about. We also discover that Audun is a keen reader so there are references here and there, normally well-known literary fiction.
His mother is lonely and compensates by inviting men back to their small home. They usually stay overnight and Audun will often confront a strange face around the house the following morning - just something else for him to deal with as best he can.
As Audun is telling us, the readers, his own story in his own words, this does lend the novel a certain immediacy which I appreciated and welcomed. But overall I simply found the character of Audun himself rather lack-lustre. However, I did sympathise with him about his broken upbringing which is obviously affecting him. We see just how much, later on in the book.
But he came across to me as a rather quiet teenager. Perhaps he's putting a brave face on things. Hiding away in his world of books seems to work also. Keeps him sane. We follow Audun into his late teens. Do things improve for him? Does he leave school and find a job?
This book was just an okay read for me personally. There wasn't enough to sustain my interest even although the book itself is rather slim. I could have done with a bit more dialogue, a bit more light and shade to break up the prose on the page. Lines such as I wake up and the sun is shining straight into my face Someone has been in here and opened the curtains. I get out of bed ... do not encourage me to continue reading this book. I did, of course and was rather relieved to get to the last page.
If this book appeals then you might like to try I Curse The River Of Time also by Per Petterson.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.