Walking Into the Night
by Olaf Olafsson (Goodreads Author)
As butler to William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon castle, Christian Benediktsson lives quietly, almost invisibly. He completes his tasks efficiently and with aplomb, catering to the whims of the volatile Chief and overseeing the running of the hectic household. Privy to the goings-on of the celebrity guests who visit as well as to Hearst’s intimate relationship with his m...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 12th 2004 by Anchor
(first published 2001)
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Aug 28, 2012 Proustitute rated it 3 of 5 stars
Olaf Olafsson’s Walking into the Night will draw inevitable comparisons to Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, both of which have butlers as their protagonists. While both deal with conflicted manservants’ inner anxieties and failures in the midst of a changing global crisis—Ishiguro’s novel focuses on the build up to the Second World War in Britain whereas Olafsson’s focuses on the years just prior to this in America, emphasizing more the Depression’s impact on celebrities—they are very di...more
Malo sam se osecao odviknutim za visok nivo pesnicke proze koju ova knjiga poseduje i to mi je u prvi mah predstvljalo teskocu, dok se nije ispoljilo njeno puno znacenje u celokupnoj strukturi romana. Njena funkcija je u osnovi povezujuca i ublazavajuca. Povezuje bolne nedorecenosti medjuljudskih odnosa i ublazava sve teske konsekvence njihovog toka. Buduci da glavni junak pokusava nesto saopstiti zeni koju je nekada napustio, putem pisama koja drzi u svom stolu i ne nadajuci se sasvim da ce ona...more
Walking into the Night is a novel about love and loss in the wake of terrible decisions. Kristjan Benediktsson is a father and a husband of four children in Iceland when on a business tirp to New York (circa World War I) he falls in love with an actress and his life changes. Eventually, from one moment to the next, he abandons his previous life and its incarnations and gives himself fully to a newfound love that will be his downfall. After his love affair and its tragic end, he becomes the butle...more
Since reading the author’s brilliant The Journey Home, I’ve wanted to read more from him; this was no disappointment. Again we have an unapologetic person examining long-ago decisions. Christian is not a likeable man; he has left his wife and children in Iceland and come to the US for the love of an exotic dancer, an equally unlikeable character. Left alone, he finds his solace at San Simeon, running the estate of another unlikeable character: William Randolph Hearst. With no one around to win M...more
A very solid book that kept me reading despite the plot not being linear. It is a very lyrically written that is more about memory and emotions that following the usual plot leading to climax with actions bringing you there. You learn quite a bit about Christian, his feelings, his regrets, and bits of his history. You learn about the family he left behind and why, just not all at once. You get the feeling he wants to right the wrong but is too much of a wandering spirit to be able to do so. You...more
If you don't want to know how this book ended - do not read my review. I picked up this book because of the fact that the main character worked at Hearst Castle for Mr. Hearst and Ms. Davies. I felt a little let down at then end, because there is really no closure. I liked the main character at first, then I didn't - I went back and forth throughout the whole book liking, not liking. I thought, well maybe he'll come around at the end...but he didn't. As the title says "Walking into the Night," t...more
Oct 23, 2007 Karolina rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition Recommends it for: An enduring person.
In the last pages of this book where it finishes, it starts again... This is a real sad story, mostly because it is very real. I can feel this man's guilt, and ignorance, and at the same be horribly angry with all the things he's done. The most shocking bit is reading those last pages, and realizing this is what we do, and this is what I do again and again, like this man will: Deal with a problem indirectly, being too afraid to face it, and continue running from ourselves. The devotion and forgi...more
Olafson's protagonist shifts so gracefully between the memory of his loves and losses and his present occupation as William Randolph Hearst's butler at San Simeon castle that I'm looking forward to reading his other novels. He details emotion exactly as it appears on the outside, and his prose has a Nordic starkness and sensibility that creates its own gravity and acing. The movement between guilt and passion, mourning and lyricism, was subtle enough to show Olafson knows exactly what he's doing...more
The past starts to catch up with a man who has spent years working as a butler since he abandoned his young family. Although the descriptions of time and place were beautifully made I struggled to empathise with the main character. I didn't feel that I understood many of his decisions, maybe this was a point the book was trying to make - that sometimes we make seemingly illogical decisions that we cannot explain.
"The leafy shadows vanished from its back..." Is indicative of the book itself, it's just a shadow of a book, no meat, marrow or bones, nothing to chew on. I continually felt like it could be a much richer story than it was, especially with newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst as a peripheral character.
I'm not sure if I've read a book that was as lyrically written as this one. Olafsson is a masterful weaver of words. It is as if he is communicating to us in the language of silk about things that are heaviest and most painful to us. It's breathtaking writing.
An interesting novel, the repression the characters feel reminds me of the book REMAINS OF THE DAY, where it becomes agonizing that they are unable to express themselves. This book is entertaining, sad, and ultimately stays true to itself.
Mar 06, 2014 ☯Bettie☯ rated it 3 of 5 stars · review of another edition
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Olaf Olafsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962. He studied physics as a Wien Scholar at Brandeis University. He is the author of three previous novels, The Journey Home, Absolution and Walking Into the Night, and a story collection, Valentines. His books have been published to critical acclaim in more than twenty languages. He is the recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary...moreMore about Olaf Olafsson...