yb's Reviews > In the Wake

In the Wake by Per Petterson
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's review
Jun 18, 09

Read in December, 2008

It cannot be a good sign that I brought this book on vacation, apparently forgetting that I read it six months ago. After reading "Out Stealing Horses", I was so enamored of Petterson that I immediately purchased this novel, which contained relatively few of the charms of "Horses" that I had to read a few pages to remember that I took this on my previous trip.

"In the Wake" follows Arvid in the aftermath of a number of person tragedies. He is struggling with the day to day tasks of surviving the grippling grief and guilt that have followed divorce and death, and does so in a disjointed and often unsuccessful way. Over the course of the novel, he remembers and explores his own awkward and painful interactions with the people he loves most. Especially complicated is his relationship with his father, who he seems to have admired, loved, and feared.

Arvid's battle to regain some semblance of a functional life rings true - the unexpected ways in which grief can derail one's life seem to make perfect sense despite being completely unpredictable. Unfortunately, Arvid - in spite of being a writer, and in possession of a fairly compelling story - lacks some of the poetic gift of his "Horses" counterpart. "In the Wake" is a fluid, emotional novel, but it suffers from being compared to Petterson's more prominent work.

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