In the beginning was the office, and in the office,
I sat. I had my legs up on the desk. The desk was tidy and well
arranged. On the left it held a heap of bills. On the right, all
the cash in my possession: two crowns and thirty oere. Beside
this stood a telephone, which was pondering how to swindle me
out of the money. In the corner of the room stood a grey filing
cabinet. It was empty. On one of the walls I had a wall safe.
It contained the only valuables I owned: a bankbook with an emergency
account consisting of 503 crowns and 75 oere. The double doors
into the waiting room stood ajar, but no one looked in. The office
was situated at the end of a long, dusty corridor. I had taken
it over from a general practitioner that had been unable to dispense
a prescription that could prevent his own death. The air in the
office remained heavy and laden with the worries and sorrows of
a lifetime. The office was located on the fourth floor of a house
on 'Strandkaien', and the only thing that stopped me from dying
of boredom was its view of the sea front. If I got up and went
over to the window, I could look down on the teeming crowds of
the market place. If I remained seated, I could survey Floeien
in its entirety. The mountainside was like a mirror of the seasons.
Upon its slopes, the snow would lie for fourteen days every winter.
Upon its slopes the naked trees bent their backs and braced themselves
for spring. Upon its slopes, the month of May would appear plump
and green. Upon its slopes, the sun would shine until July brought
its greyness and rain. Upon its slopes, the approaching autumn
transformed hues: from green to yellow and red, and finally to
brown. Only the dark, evergreen firs and the stout pine trees
could fly in the face of the oncoming winter. We were now in the
last days of October, and the mountain was slowly beginning to
assume its winter appearance. It was a grey day and the snow hadn't
yet arrived. The only movement was the perpetual oscillation of
the 'Floeibanen' cable car. Up and down. Up and down. And that
I had seen before.
Gunnar Staalesen's position in Norwegian literature is
virtually unparalleled. This productive author's books are top
sellers and through translation into sundry languages have transcended
the country's borders. Using poetic realism he highlights contemporary
life, most often from a critical perspective, and sketches a cross-section
of the social relations within which we operate. As a vehicle
he has chosen the crime novel, not as a goal, but as a method.
Consequently, he has contributed to making the genre respectable
in this country. Furthermore, the fact that it reaches a larger
public than most other literary forms is hardly considered a shortcoming
by the author.
about Gunnar Staalesen