Written by Lars Saabye Christensen
Number 4 in Byens Spor
Publisher: Cappelen Damm
Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Norwegian
Original Language: Norwegian
Read from 2021-08-18 to 2021-08-22
Read in Norwegian
Review: This fourth and last(?) instalment of Byens Spor continues moving forward in time, and takes us from an Oslo that can be considered historic, to an Oslo that I’d consider to be the present. The previous book was slated and written as being the conclusion to a trilogy, but fortunately, Saabye Christensen’s health took a turn for the better — enabling him to write this fourth book to wrap up the stories of the characters we know from the other books… kind of.
I said of the first Byens Spor that it restored my faith in Norwegian having the potential to be a beautiful language, and this book continues to prove that: the language is beautiful, but wordplay and turns of phrase throughout that are clever, so simple, yet so beautiful.
This book, like the others, reads like a love letter to Oslo, but in this book it’s turned up to eleven: Oslo is a character in this book, character development and all. However, the style of the “he went from this street, halfway down that street, then stopped outside of building x”-style of writing is bordering on the point where even I find the hyper-local focus annoying, and my tolerance for this kind of stuff is rather high.
Unfortunately, this book doesn’t really serve much of a purpose other than being a bit of a light treat for those of us who like the series. The past books were emotional, brutal, challenging, glee-inspiring, and generally an effortless window into an engaging story which was just happening to the characters. This book appears to exist to wrap up a story that doesn’t need wrapping up — something the book is aware of, to the point where it becomes a theme. And maybe there is a brave double-cross in there: the theme of the book, about nothing ever really being finished, about nothing ever really needing to be finished, is a commentary on the book itself.
This book really didn’t need to exist, but I’m glad it does. It doesn’t do anything special, but it’s really good at not doing it. It makes you think, but not very hard. It’s beautifully written, and a pleasure to read. And the Byens Spor series of book holds up incredibly well regardless.