Saturday, 30 March 2013

#CBR5 Book 34. "Få meg på, for faen" (Turn me on, damn it) by Olaug Nilssen

Page count: 192 pages
Rating: 2 stars

Maria, the eldest of eight daughters, is a sociology student in Bergen and works part time as a cleaner. She's due to make a big presentation as part of her coursework, and is certain that the way she shows the oppression and hardship that cleaners face every day will be so revelatory that all instances of the media will want a piece of her, and she will appear on news programs, talk shows radio shows and in the news papers. While cleaning classrooms and lecture halls, she dreams of the media attention. Of course, she has to write the presentation first.

Alma is fifteen, and completely consumed with lustful thoughts and desire. Every waking moment, she thinks about sex and fantasizes about having sex with pretty much everyone in her daily life. Her friend, her boss (the local shopkeeper), the boys in school. Her mother gets increasingly more upset, as Alma starts stealing booze, racks up a huge phone bill calling phone sex lines, shop lifts a porn magazine and seems to get more and more out of control.

Maria's mother, wife of the local shopkeeper (and mother to eight girls) is feeling increasingly more dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Her days consist of tending house, cleaning and cooking for her large family. She feels unappreciated and unnoticed by her family, and wants to get a job, and make a difference. When she hears that there is a chance the local turnip factory may be closing down (or perhaps just have to initiate some cutbacks), she packs a bag and goes to Oslo to stage a protest in front of the Parliament.

This was a decidedly odd book, but thankfully it wasn't very long, or difficult to read. The theme connecting the three women seems to be dissatisfaction with their lot in life, wanting a change, and wanting to be noticed. Maria is bored as a student and some time cleaner, Alma just wants boys to notice her (she's not one of the popular girls) and Maria's mother (whose never even given a name in the book) is sick of being a housewife and wants a change. The narrative changes very suddenly and unexpectedly from reality to fantasy, and to begin with, it was difficult for me to keep up with what was real, and what was flights of fancy.

The shortest section of the book, the one where Alma's story is related, also gets surprisingly graphic. With the amount of romance and paranormal fantasy I read, it's not like I clutch my pearls in horror or am even adverse to sexual content, but some of the things going through Alma's mind were pretty out there. Not entirely sure what the author was trying to do with that.

I'm also not entirely sure what the purpose of this book was, and what Nilssen is actually trying to say. There's bits that seem like she's trying to make some sort of social or possibly feminist commentary, but then there are also huge amounts of just absurdist fantasy. It's yet another book I can cross off my TBR list, and another course work text in the bag. I guess I'll just have to be thankful for that.

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