Of Moose & Men – Review: Doppler by Erlend Loe

doppler3Doppler by Erlend Loe is every bit the “modern fable” it promises to be. Originally publishing in Norway, it has been translated into English by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw and published by House of Anansi.

After his father dies, Andreas Doppler decides to withdraw from civilization and live in a tent in the nearby woods of Oslo. Coming to terms with having barely known his father and the transience of life, along with his growing disdain for people and their material wealth, he decides on a new rustic arrangement that includes a tag-along infant moose. Joining him at times are the likes of a WWII model builder, a lock-picking family man, a Reactionary and Doppler’s own wife and children who add their bits to the book’s theme of survival. Though each character appearing in Doppler have unique features about them, the female characters are the least explored, in fact, they are mostly avoided. Doppler’s wife and teenaged daughter represent the “others” in this case, the ones who cannot relate and do not understand his ultimate need for escape.  Even the mother moose is killed off within the first few pages, leaving her son to navigate life on his own. The men however, including Doppler’s young son, are able to appreciate and even embrace his choice to eschew modern civilization and live (mostly) off the land. The crutch of the story is about men finding their place in the world – or out of it.

Since the story is a fable, it’s important to suspend any disbelief and go along with Doppler’s narrative without questioning how he manages to pull it all off. This isn’t a story about gritty survival at it’s most realistic, but rather a cultural and introspective survival – a back-to-basics approach that mixes modern thought with natural instincts. Doppler removes himself from the world in order to survive and survive he does, as explored through his eloquent and charming reflections. Doppler is a superbly fleshed out what if? that has flashed across many of our minds at one point or another. I smiled the entire way though it’s 180 pages. It’s told with a delightful voice by a loveable narrator that will immediately pull you in and nestle comfortably into the folds of your heart.

The book itself looks like it could have been plucked off your grandfather’s shelf, all the more appropriate for a contemporary fable about a man and his moose.

book

Doppler by Erlend Loe
House of Anansi Press 2012
Cover Image by Nicolas Cheetham

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Check it Twice: A Holiday Book List

At the first sign of snow, I’m immediately making lists of all my “to-buy-fors”. I’m a little biased, but I’ve always thought books were a great choice for gifts because there are literally SO MANY CHOICES.  Whether it’s a special interest coffee table book, a new edition classic, a silly novelty or a recommended read, it’s virtually impossible not to find something pretty perfect in a bookstore. It’s also just as easy to walk into a ChIndigo and get so overwhelmed by the selection that your palms start to sweat and the next thing you know you’re sucking back a Peppermint Mocha and staring at a 50$ pillow. That’s where judging books by their covers can really come in handy.  To ease some of your browsing blues and to avoid hyperventilating into a sparkly gift bag, here’s a list of my Canadian fiction picks for the season and their potential receivers (as demonstrated by some family and friends who I’ve pigeon-holed for clarity purposes) to get you started…

  1. For your historical fiction-loving mother: The Tale-Teller by Susan Glickman (Cormorant Books)
  2. For your horror-fan father: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper (Simon and Schuster)
  3. For your rustic burley manfriend: Doppler by Erlend Loe (House of Anansi)
  4. For the alternative urban city lifer: Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall (Cormorant Books)
  5. For your sensitive indie hipster brother: I Am My Own Betrayal by Guillaume Morrissette (Maison Kasini)
  6. For your campus queen sister: (You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki (Razorbill)
  7. For your bookish sister-in-law: Magnified World by Grace O’Connell (Random House)
  8. For the precocious pre-teen: Under The Moon by Deborah Kerbel (Dancing Cat Books)
  9. For the quirky, cat-loving pal: You Are a Cat! by Sherwin Sullivan Tija (Conundrum Press)
  10. For your pervy uncle: Pinboy by George Bowering (Cormorant Books)
  11. For the thoughtful short story collector: Pardon Our Monsters by Andrew Hood (Vehicule Press)
  12. For the snuggly bedtimer: When I was Small by Sara O’Leary (Simply Read Books)

Now, obviously, these are just little suggestions to get you started, which is why I included the publisher’s website links so you can read the descriptions of each book for yourself, check out the accolades and browse their other titles while you’re at it. There are tons of books to discover for the readers on your list and buying from Canadian publishers (hint) and independent bookstores (hint hint) is a great way to support our national literature as a whole. Sometimes all it takes is a wee nudge in the right direction and the best part is you have so much time! (you are so welcome for being so organized) But don’t take my word for it! Take a look at these other (slightly more reputable) sources for award-winning and critically acclaimed can lit!

Happy Shopping! xo