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It's Fine by Me

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  882 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
The moving story of a young man's life from an international literary master.

On his first day of school, a teacher welcomes Audun to the class by asking him to describe his former life in the country. But there are stories about his family he would prefer to keep to himself, such as the weeks he spent living in a couple of cardboard boxes, and the day of his little brother
Hardcover, 199 pages
Published November 3rd 2011 by Harvill Secker (first published 1992)
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Jul 29, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it
If you use Ernest Hemingway’s criteria – “all you have to do is write one true sentence”, Per Petterson is profoundly gifted. I’ve marveled at the authenticity of his other books, particularly Out Stealing Horses and To Siberia. This one is newly translated and actually precedes the others; it was written in 1992.

It’s a melancholy coming of age story and it helps to know that two years before he wrote it, Petterson’s parents and brother were killed in a Norwegian ferry tragedy. Likely, the autho
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
What was it like to be a teenager in Oslo in 1970? For Audun Sletten, it's not a particularly pleasant life. He's a sullen young man, prone to drunkenness and apathy, and already quite defeated for one so young. We learn some of what made him that way as he alternates between present and past tense, telling stories from his 13th year in 1965 and his 18th year in 1970.

I have very much enjoyed some of Per Petterson's other novels, but I had to force myself to finish this one. The prose is up to Pe
Aug 02, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Nature and Literature

“It’s Fine by Me” is a coming of age story. Audun, the growing boy, has had a tough Norwegian upbringing. His dad is a violent alcoholic who mistreats him, his brother and sister and their mom. The book begins when Audun is thirteen in 1965 just as society is undergoing seismic shifts. Audun is lucky he has one true friend in Arvid. They talk about books and Audun borrows classics from Arvid’s father’s bookshelves. Arvid’s dad also becomes a little of a substitute role model
Review published on Three Percent, October 16, 2012:


On an early morning in Oslo in 1970, Arvid Jansen shimmies up his high school flagpole and replaces his nation’s flag with that of the Viet Cong. Confronted by the headmaster in front of his classmates, Arvid takes the opportunity to expound on the evils of the U.S. occupation of Vietnam and Norway’s complicit foreign policy, all the time being observed from a far corner by his good friend Audun Slett
Jul 28, 2012 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, so I love this book and yet hold back a star. Tough love, call it. And logic, really, considering that Petterson's OUT STEALING HORSES took me by storm. This book came before that one. In fact, Graywolf Press will be publishing four from his backlist: two novels, one short-story collection, and one essay collection. So, yeah, I love this book, but realize it does not quite reach the peaks that HORSES did.

That said, I genuinely admire the autobiographical character here. Audun Sletter's hards
Bonnie Brody
Aug 17, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The setting of this novel is working class Oslo, Norway and the story, in its broad description is a coming-of-age tale of two boys, Audun and Arvid, who meet on Audun's first day of school. Audun has a tough persona, one he may not even be totally aware of cultivating. On the very first day of school he refuses to take off his sun glasses, telling the principal that he has scars around his eyes.

The book opens in 1965 and is primarily about the years of 1965 through 1970, though not in sequentia
M. Sarki
Basically I was wrong about thinking this an inferior work by Per Petterson. It was simply not what I like to read, but it was very well-written and well worth my time. There is much to like about this book and anything I might have to say about it would ruin the experience for somebody else so inclined to read it. But whatever anyone decides to do is fine by me.
May 12, 2013 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
If Hemingway has a successor, it wasn’t Mailer or Raymond Carver. Nor is it Tom McGuane, though there are points superficial and substantial to be considered for McGuane, but it is Per Petterson. The Norwegian novelist is spare, unsentimental, precise, vividly descriptive without being florid or sentimental, and blessed with the gift of voice so his dialogue is authentic, unique, and natural. Like Hemingway, Petterson imbues his characters with a stubborn heroism that lives in understatement.

Julie Mestdagh
Het boek "twee wegen" van Per Petterson zindert nog steeds na in mijn lijf, ook al las ik het ruim 7 maanden geleden. Een briljant verhaal van een briljant auteur, een andere uitleg is er niet. Toen ik dan ook vorige week "ik vind het best" van diezelfde Per Petterson in de rekken zag liggen twijfelde ik geen moment: karretje in en lezen die handel! Verwachtte ik te veel en is het daarom tegen gevallen? Zou kunnen. Het boek is op zich zeker niet slecht, opnieuw een aangrijpend verhaal en zeker e ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Myriam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Meester in het onbenoemde….
In Pettersons tweede (?) roman met de laconieke titel 'Ik vind het best', hanteert hij al met veel vakmanschap de bedrieglijk eenvoudige stijl die hem zo groot maakt. Geen grein sentiment en toch slaagt hij erin je diep te ontroeren of in enkele zinnen een zo raak beeld te schetsen dat het je adem beneemt. Citeren buiten de context heeft geen zin, dat het geheel meer is dan de som der onderdelen is een cliché dat nooit zo waar kan zijn als in een roman van Petterson. Z
Sep 09, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
It’s Fine by Me (1992) is an early novel – only just translated into English in 2011 – by the author of the superb Out Stealing Horses, which in 2007 won the IMPAC and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. (It was also shortlisted in 2008 for the Best Translated Book Award but this one is translated by Don Bartlett, not by Ann Born, who died in 2011).

When I first began reading It’s Fine by Me, its adolescent narrator immediately put me in mind of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, but
Russell George
Dec 07, 2012 Russell George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you know that feeling when you really like a particular author, no matter what s/he writes? That there’s something about their style that makes reading them somehow more personal, more meaningful, than other writers? Well, it’s pretty rare, but that’s how I feel about Per Petterson. I think it’s the way he uses the present tense to create just the right about of tension, alongside the very ordinariness of his stories. This was about a troubled teenager from the home of a physically abusive fa ...more
Alyson Hagy
May 29, 2013 Alyson Hagy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel, Petterson's second, is a careful and generous study of human character. It's easy to see it as a precursor to OUT STEALING HORSES and TO SIBERIA, but I enjoyed it in some ways precisely because it isn't those books. Petterson stays close to his protagonist, Auden, and there's no tinge of reflection or reminiscence. Instead, the scenes -- many of them brilliantly described -- accrue until we have a rich and fulfilling sense of adolescence in Norway in the 70s. A wonderful story constr ...more
Review copy from Graywolf Press

Read 9/19 - 9/22/12
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended; Audun's the Norwegian Holden Caulfield, y'all
Pgs: 199
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Release Date: Oct 2012

So there's this thing people are doing with books that feature young protagonists - they are automatically labeling them "Young Adult" (YA). You've see it too, haven't you? I'm not going crazy, right?

For reasons that I find hard to put into words (or, that I find hard to put into words that won't result in me getting
Mark Mitten
May 26, 2013 Mark Mitten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every Per Petterson book I've read, I've liked. My favorite of his is "Out Stealing Horses", and there are only five novels in his repertoire so far. At least five which have been translated--his bio mentions a sixth, but I haven't seen it in English yet. His 1st person, contemplative style tells a story differently than many authors would. Like when you are under water, and can hear voices above the surface, but your thoughts are much louder than the exterior world. Soft, muted, but very person ...more
Kristine Brancolini
I'm starting to feel like a grade inflater; everything I have read lately gets 4 or 5 stars. But I think I'm just getting better at picking what to read. I have so many titles on my to-read list that I don't want to waste time on books I don't like. Anyway, I had never heard of Per Petterson or this book, It's Fine By Me. I saw it at the library and picked it up. I visited Norway last summer and I have been reading Scandinavian mystery writers, but had not seen many other books by Scandivanian a ...more
Oct 23, 2011 Marleen rated it really liked it
Copy received from and reviewed for Bookgeeks

Set in the 1970’s in Norway, this is the story of Audun Sletton.
When the book starts Audun is 13 years old and facing his first day in a new school where insists on keeping his sunglasses on all day and refuses to talk about where he came from and his past.
Five years later Audun is the only one of his siblings still living with his mother in a working-class district of Oslo. He is in his last year of school but not sure if that is the place for him. A
Heather Noble
Mar 06, 2012 Heather Noble rated it really liked it
It may well be fine by you but it shouldn't be I wanted to shout at Audun as he tells the story of the 5 years of his life from 13 to 18.
Audun is loveable, determined, intelligent, vulnerable, uncompromising, and shyly sensitive.
His life at home is unhappy for many reasons and his best relationship is with his friend Arvid whose family also provides reading materials such as Jack London and Ernest Hemingway. Audun comes to measure his life and writing credentials by these two authors; unsurprisi
Mar 25, 2013 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europa
when i was a kid i remember seeing a sort of tv news report or short documentary [about maybe 1972?] about teen drinking and drugging and rock on maybe denmark or sweden. the permissive society allowed young people to drink openly and have long hair and such and i thought that was great, it was what me and my friends were doing too, but NOT openly. we hid in the bushes and backways [sticking out as sore thumbs probably too]. this novel [per petterson's first?] is about those times, set in blue c ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Mish rated it liked it
Recommended to Mish by: Kaylene
Audun is an 18year old boy and at his last year of school. He drifts though life not really knowing where it’s headed, and think that everything is fine. Audun is sensitive boy, and a little reserved, in that he likes to keep his childhood secret to himself. But every so often Audun has these unexpected outbursts of anger, and you’re baffled by what has triggered it off. It’s obvious that not everything is fine, but you do slowly come to understand what is troubling him as he gives you brief gli ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Katherine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"He drops them on the tarmac, with a loud groan each time, thwack, thwack they go, hitting the ground with a solid thud I've always thought had something to do with what is in the newspapers" (15).
"But everybody loved that fox and didn't want to let him go, so Leif had to brood the eggs in his armpits and the end Signe, Bjorn and all the guests were walking around with eggs in their armpits until they had aches and pains all over. Dinner was especially difficult..." (58).

*I have so enjoyed readi

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

This must be a back number as the copyright is 1992. No dedication or front quote, just straight into the opening:

I was thirteen years old and about to start the seventh class at Veitvet School. My mother said she would go with me on the first day - we were new to the area, and anyway she had no job - but I didn't want her to.

An early work that didn't work for me. The writing is good but the subject matter left me cold even though I could relate to be
"(...) ik begreep dat er in het leven van mijn moeder en vader dingen waren die ik nooit zou begrijpen."

Petterson schetst het portret van Audun Sletten, nieuwkomer en outsider op een Noorse school. Een vader met een drankverslaving, een overleden broertje en een weinig spraakzame moeder maken van Auduns leven een wankele zoektocht naar vriendschap, erkenning en een soort van geluk. Een roman met weinig franje, eerder kille typeringen maar desondanks: een verhaal dat intrigeert. Meer dan lezenswa
Jun 27, 2015 jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Beautiful prose, but a bit unbalanced plot-wise. I came here fresh from Out Stealing Horses, and this seems like batting practice for it (er, plus a decade or so). Wow, I'm really getting into Don Bartlett's translation work, these angsty, landscape-driven Norwegian novels. Their teenage protagonists are so fun; they drink, smoke, and wreak havoc, and their moms are just sort of wry and bemused about it.
Mar 09, 2012 Kaylene rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
I really enjoyed this book, it was a great read. The writing is wonderful and so are the characters, especially Audun (you feel for him as he struggles to find his place in the world). Will definitely be reading more of Per Petterson
Kelley Higginbotham
book really went nowhere - I kept thinking something would happen, so kept reading it, but it was kind of a waste of my time.
May 23, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glorious prose.
***This review may contain spoilers, but I'm not promising anything.***

I received this book free through a Goodreads FirstReads Giveaway.

I had never read any of Per Petterson's work before getting my hands on a copy of "It' s Fine by Me" so perhaps that's why it took me as long as it did to get into this book. I started reading it when I was stuck in bed sick, however, so that may have something to do with it as well. Whatever it was, I had a hard time getting into the story at first, but thankf
An early book of his, about two boys' growing up

NYR by Claire Messud

Esp. his later books sound pretty depressing. But he is said to be a very good writer, sparse with words. "strenuously eschews nicety and falsehood"

"His masterpiece, Out STealing Horses", about two men
John Hatley
Dec 15, 2016 John Hatley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by a great author. It's one of his earlier works and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Petterson knew from the age of 18 that he wanted to be a writer, but didn't embark on this career for many years - his debut book, the short story collection Aske i munnen, sand i skoa, (Ashes in the Mouth, Sand in the Shoes) was published 17 years later, when Petterson was 35. Previously he had worked for years in a factory as an unskilled labourer, as his parents had done before him, and had als ...more
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“There are some things with alcohol you must never do. You must never drink alone, never drink on Sundays, never drink before seven o'clock and if you do, it has to be on a Saturday.” 2 likes
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