Monday, August 21, 2006


Andrew Santella of The Gray Lady takes note of the largeness of heart and other organs of Jan Kjaerstad's THE SEDUCER:

"Jonas Wergeland, the hero of Kjaerstad's wry and playful novel, is "Norway's greatest television talent of all time," the creator of a groundbreaking and phenomenally popular public TV series about great Norwegians called "Thinking Big." But his remarkable thing about Jonas. He is, for example, endowed with a "magic penis," which not only makes him irresistible to certain women but turns his encounters with them into life-changing episodes. There is also his remarkable inbuilt antenna" for sniffing out underappreciated and soon-to-be-valuable works of art. And then there's the possibility he helped bring about peace between Israel and Egypt during a 1977 hike up Mount Sinai. Among the delights of this book is its straightfaced reverence for Jonas and the comically exalted claims it makes on his behalf. But an even neater trick is that for all the wonders and blessings heaped upon him, he remains a sympathetic figure when misfortune lays him low. Jonas' most grievous loss comes when he finds his wife murdered on the floor of their living room. That catastrophe occasions a wildly digressive look back at his career and coming of age, including some very deft renderings of the cruelties and joys of boyhood. Veering from the broadly comic to the beautifully sad, with detours for deadpan meditations on the "Norwegian national character," this book is not just big (606 pages) but big-hearted. "--Jimmy

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