I am so happy to have stumbled upon Vigdis Hjorth: the author of 20 novels, only three of which have so far been translated into English. Long Live the Post Horn! is the most recently available and it is so delightful and strange that I read it in one sitting. The narrative follows a young PR representative struggling with identity and an increasing sense that everything in her life is meaningless. When a colleague disappears and she inherits his project of representing the Norwegian Post and Communications Union in opposing an EU directive, she becomes so invested in the struggle that she begins to reinvest in her own life. Hjorth’s writing is hypnotic and unsentimental, yet incredibly affecting, as she questions social responsibility and the nature of storytelling. In a year where threats to the postal service have been all too real, this book is refreshingly hopeful about what it looks like when those with the power to control stories choose people over commerce.
After a career spent calling people out on their mistreatment of nature, Williams could hardly be blamed if she threw up her hands now and left the species to its deadly folly. One senses despair written all over Harrow, which is set in a “post-catastrophic” world, dying because “we are dead to its astonishments,” yet also struggling—like bombed-out Phoenix—to rise anew from its ashes, but the novel doesn’t quite succumb. Challenging, even alienating—do we cheer on the elderly eco-activists with their pathetic plots, laugh at them? Both?— And what of the final, nearly Biblical, vision, as the ten-year-old judge, Jeffrey, a follower of Kafka, changes his name to Enoch (who was “taken from Earth…without passing through death”), finds and loses his beloved Green Galena ? Featuring William’s fierce language, incomparable sharp wit, searing satire, and even admirable characters, this fiction makes a powerful statement from the unprecedented pressures currently at work in the world.
Porter's novella--or, like Lanny, and Grief is the Thing with Feathers, what might better be called a haunting book-length prose poem--enters the mind of its eponymous protagonist during the painter's last days in Madrid. This idiosyncratic writer has created a work of intense imagery and poetic delirium that evokes Bacon's deathbed struggle as he comes to terms with the life and legacy he is about to leave.