Knots: Stories

Knots is an inventive short story collection from one of Norway's most acclaimed writers, Gunnhild Øyehaug. Originally published in 2004 in Norway, Knots is a collection of surreal stories that range from traditional short story length to less-than-a-page-long microfictions.

Øyehaug often introduces a comic touch to stories about despair and uncertainty, shedding a satirical light on the intellectual agitation common to brainy short fiction. Her characters frequently take self-consciousness to an extreme, such as in "Nice and Mild," where a trip to IKEA pushes the protagonist to a crisis of circular reasoning: "I'm thinking such simple, positive things, I try not to see myself from the outside, I try not to think idiot, idiot, get away from here, can't you see that being here and thinking positive thoughts is just building to an enormous anticlimax." In a much shorter story, "The Deer at the Edge of the Forest," a hart despairs that "no one sees me" even though "the whole point is that I am supposed to be difficult to see, I know that.... But it's the very premise of my life that is now making me miserable."

The rest of the stories are as bizarre, told sometimes in odd script-like formats ("An Entire Family Disappears") or with incredibly lengthy footnotes ("Compulsion"). One of the most memorable stories, "Small Knot," follows a mother and her son tethered by an unbreakable umbilical cord, but none of these stories are straightforward or easy to forget. Knots is the work of an idiosyncratic master. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Powered by: Xtenit