Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Publisher Spotlight Dalkey Archive Press: Review of The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am, by Kjersti A. Skomsvold

The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am by Kjersti A. Skomsvold. Published 2011 by Dalkey Archive Press. Literary Fiction. Translated from Norwegian by Kerri A. Pierce.

The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am is a unique, quirky little book narrated by an elderly widow who is trying to find her place in the world as she enters her golden years alone and poor. She and her husband were very close and had created a tight little nest over the years, just the two of them. Mathea Martinsen is an introvert to put it mildly but she wants desperately to reach out to those around her- she just doesn't know how to go about it. She wears a watch because she hopes someone will ask her the time, but they never do. She bakes pastry to bring to a tenants' association meeting but can't resist eating them. She reminisces about her married life. She watches what's left of her life pass by.

It sounds pretty bleak, and this book does take on some dark, serious themes about aging, loneliness and how society fails to provide resources for people in her situation. The narrative is made up of her observations and private thoughts; she's blunt and naive at the same time, with little idea of how she comes across to her audience. Of course in her mind there is no audience, just herself and her keepsakes. Some of Mathea's observations will make you laugh; some will make you sad, but none will leave you unaffected.

The right reader for The Faster I Walk is someone who will like an intensely character-driven, nearly plot-free narrative, an eccentric point of view and a bittersweet ending. Books like this one are the reason I love small presses. You just don't find this kind of voice from more mainstream sources. It's a really lovely little book, one of the most unusual and delightful novels I've come across in a while.

Rating: BUY

See other posts in this Publishers Spotlight series:
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Dalkey Archive Press.