i curse the river of time

I’ve been tagged in a cute challenge by Emily of A Cup of English Tea. Emily is a writer of fiction, blogger, violinist, pianist, and all-around nice and cool person. I think I met her via the #WritingChallenge group on Twitter (I’ve mentioned this group before—basically, it’s a group of people who write and encourage others who are writing by connecting through a monthly hashtag) and I’ve been following her blog ever since.

Anyway, the challenge is pretty straightforward: post a quote from a book, write about it, and tag a person each day. This goes for just three days, so nothing too arduous.

The quote for today comes from Per Petterson’s I Curse the River of Time. (Very, very dedicated, long-term readers may remember I blogged about this book years ago.) The quote I’ve chosen is a bit long, so bear with me. It comes from the beginning of the book, describing the narrator’s mother and her visit to a cemetery where some of her family members are buried.

Three years earlier her father had been buried (irritable and impatient as he always had been) in the Fladstrand Church cemetery that bordered the lovely park, Plantagen, which shared with the cemetery its trees, shared its beech and ash and maple, in the same plot where her mother, wide eyed and confused, had lain down almost willingly two years before, where her brother had lain for thirty-five years, dazed and unwillingly after too short a life.

A dove was looking down from atop the family gravestone. It was made from metal so it could not fly away, but sometimes it went missing all the same and only a spike would remain. Someone had taken that dove, someone out there maybe had an entire collection of doves and angels and other small, Christian bronze sculptures in a cupboard at home and on long evenings would close the curtains and take them out and run his fingers gently over the smooth, cold bodies.

I don’t even know where to begin with this. I love that passage so much. I love the language in the first paragraph describing her family who are already buried there. I love the description of the dove and the idea that someone keeps a collection of the sculptures in his house. The whole book is infused with the same sad tone that colors this excerpt. It’s actually a really sad book, now that I think about it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read it, though. It’s such a good book. Plus, it’s translated from Norwegian and I feel like it’s my mission in life (along with exposing people to classical music) to get people in my country (the United States) to read more literature from foreign countries.

For the challenge today, I tag Kiera from Chapters in Flux. Kiera is another writer I met through the #WritingChallenge group, though she’s not American like Emily and I are—she’s Australian!

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. I promise that quote will be slightly less depressing than this one.

4 thoughts on “The Book Quote Challenge: Day 1

  1. Love it! Great first quote, and I’m excited to see what other ones you choose to include. I’m sure they will be equally engaging and beautifully written. I will admit I haven’t read much that’s been translated, especially from something like Norwegian. That’s probably something I could improve in myself, reading more things from other countries. Anyhow, great first post!

    1. Thanks! And yes, you ought to read more translated literature. I read somewhere that it’s only 2% of what is published in this country, which is just sad, if you ask me.

Comments are now closed.