Guest blog post: Erlend Loe on Doppler
Today we’re thrilled to welcome author Erlend Loe to our blog for a guest post. See Erlend present his new book Doppler at the International Festival of Authors on Saturday, October 27.
When I wrote Doppler some eight years ago I was living in the same house as I do today — in a city and a neighbourhood that neither me nor my wife come from and where the prices of the houses keep rising dramatically, much more than in most other parts of Oslo, and where we would never have a chance of buying a house today. We were just lucky, I guess, twelve years ago when, on our way to a Sunday stroll in the forest with some friends, we drove past a For Sale sign, stopped and found a run down house that not many others at the time were interested in. So we ended up buying it (we could barely afford it) and now we live here, quite by accident, as life often goes.
So today I still keep passing the same places in our neighbourhood as I made Doppler pass and see in the book. The supermarket where he tries to barter elk meat for skim milk is a place I visit all the time. I am always afraid that they secretely laugh about my daily skim milk purchase, and that some of the staff still remember that my publisher asked them to do a promotional stunt for the book as it came out. They politely said no thanks — after having read the book and finding it too weird (is my guess). Most Norwegian supermarkets do not promote natural economy with bartering and self sustained living — I do not know if Canadian shops are different, but I guess not.
Two or three times a week I pass the nice houses between ours and the forest, they have a tendency to be more expensive the higher they are situated, with views of the city and the fjord, and I think about the values of the people living in them. Do they identify with my conservative character, the reactionary, or with Doppler? I cannot tell. But when you live in a house that costs a million and a half US dollars, your views and feelings tend not to be too subversive.
And I think about myself. Deep rooted sympathy with the old Indian way of thinking about nature on the one hand — and very modern living, with a lot of air miles every year, no home grown food, etc, regular consumerism like most others on the other. It is a painful contradiction and I am not better then anyone else.
Earlier today I went running in the forest. I started doing it when I was 39, four years ago. The panic of middle age overtook me and I did what many family men (and women) in this part of Oslo does. We run, we cycle. In the forest. I meet them from time to time. So many potential Dopplers. Today it was raining heavily. Cold October rain. Only the most desperate are running on days like today. On small forest paths. I saw a couple of them, but only for a second, we are elusive, like elks or badgers. We disappear. I have even found myself running on pitch dark nights, with a head lamp — exactly like the guy I make fun of in my book.
And the tent I put up when writing Doppler was destroyed by the snow even before the book was published. All hope is lost. I must run faster and faster and farther and farther.