ELS-Portfolio-Literature "Bukken til havresekken"

Excerpt from 'Bukken til havresekken' (Like a bee to honey)
By Gunnar Staalesen

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.

Translated by Kevin Reeder

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.

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