Read Innan jag brinner by Gaute Heivoll Peter Törnqvist Online


Året är 1978 och en pyroman går lös i Finsland på det norska Sørlandet. I en hel månad har bränderna härjat och paniken växer i bygden. "Det här är ju galenskap", viskar folk. Tillsammans med den lokala polisen har rikskriminalen upprättat en bas i det gamla häradshuset, och jakten intensifieras. Samma dag som pyromanen grips döps en pojke i Finslands kyrka. Han får namnetÅret är 1978 och en pyroman går lös i Finsland på det norska Sørlandet. I en hel månad har bränderna härjat och paniken växer i bygden. "Det här är ju galenskap", viskar folk. Tillsammans med den lokala polisen har rikskriminalen upprättat en bas i det gamla häradshuset, och jakten intensifieras. Samma dag som pyromanen grips döps en pojke i Finslands kyrka. Han får namnet Gaute Heivoll och blir som vuxen författare. Med Innan jag brinner återvänder han till sin hembygd för att ta reda på vad som hände de där skrämmande dagarna för över trettio år sedan. Vem var pyromanen? Och pojken som döptes, och som hela sitt liv har levt med historien om bränderna – vad hände med honom?...

Title : Innan jag brinner
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789113036625
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Innan jag brinner Reviews

  • M. Sarki
    2019-03-10 06:43, the music today in this Starbucks makes me want to destroy something. I am sort of stuck here as my Subaru is being worked on over at the Big O, a couple blocks away. Big job. New shocks, tire rotation, wheel alignment, oil change. You know, almost regular maintenance for an automobile with nearly 150,000 miles on it. Anyway, I ordered a mocha grande, gave them a name to call out when it was ready, and finally, fifteen minutes later, I go up to check on what could possibly be taking so long and there on the counter it sat. At least I thought it was mine. The person behind the counter said it was a mocha for somebody with my first name. I mentioned that it would have been nice if someone had informed me. The person remarked that a yell was made, but perhaps I didn't hear it. I have been back sitting here at my little square barstool table after another fifteen minutes have gone by and have yet to hear a yell out of anybody, least of all a barista, and there have been plenty of customers since me, so I think the rather grumpy employee was lying to me. Just like Gaute Heivoll may have been lying to me as well. But it doesn't matter to me if Gaute was telling me a tale because this book was supposed to be a work of fiction anyway. I am not at all positive that these related burns actually happened and do not really care. Gaute made them real enough for me. The book is actually heart-wrenching with his personal memoir content regarding his dying dad and his own struggle over what to do with his life. The narrator has the same name as Gaute Heivoll so I suppose we can imagine this is a true story with some made-up shit in it. There is plenty of pain to go around the bowl and get it going with a very good spin. We get to know all the neighbors and their personal crosses they bear. And somehow we are getting to at least the surface personality of the criminal who is never revealed until late in the book, but you know all along who it is and I think this is also on purpose. I am of the opinion that Gaute Hovill knows exactly what he is doing, as in his being a supremely gifted writer with a masterly plan. Something tells me this novel is a parallel bit about being an only child and how the pressures to make something of oneself might ignite a burn that can become unmanageable. It may be that a mental illness or dis-ease develops and exacerbates an already difficult situation. The reader is kept from knowing what exactly happened to the most tragic character of all the many collected in this book. It is never made clear what happened to this once kind and considerate person that fueled his eventual becoming into a dangerous pyromaniac. Parents can sometimes cause more harm than good, and the damage is usually done in the spirit of love and adoration. I know firsthand what it is like to love someone too much and to care even a bit too exorbitantly for their happiness. It is quite hard to let go. To live and let live. But one must, or else perhaps have to live with possibly unseemly consequences. In the end I realized this was a book of memory, about a certain time spent in the history of a small town called Finsland. A story about a boy who lost even himself, who hung onto a memory of his own perfection, a boy who even his parents no longer knew, and the journey some of us must make between a past time remembered and a life lost in its clouding over. It is obvious to me that Gaute Hovill is a born poet as there are enough beautiful sentences to prove his gift for stringing along words. But it is one of the saddest books I have ever read, and it is simply because of this: There is little in its completion that might redeem the lives that seem to still be lost grappling out in its frontier. But isn't that the truth.

  • Doug Wells
    2019-03-16 07:07

    This is my second Norwegian author (other is the amazing Per Petterson) - these guys are serious plumbers of darkness. Excellent writing and a compelling story, and breathtakingly dark.

  • Julie M
    2019-03-19 06:53

    I wanted to like this, but the author's declarative sentence style and passive voice got on my nerves right away. Knowing the Nordic "type" I thought his characters were quite believable. But the outing of the arsonist/pyromaniac (and his subsequent punishment and return to the small Norwegian town after prison) seemed unnecessarily drawn out - I knew right away whodunit. Most readers would! It ruined the story's arc, and was anti climactic. Heivoll's story, based on a true crime in 1970's Kristiansand, wasn't well served by his decision to weave in his own memoir either. IMHO, of course. Can't recommend this one.

  • Bonnie Brody
    2019-03-15 04:07

    Gaute Heivoll has written both a compelling novel and a historical and fact-driven book that examines a series of fires that occurred during two months in 1978 Norway. It is told from the perspective of the author who was born during the year that the arson occurred, as well as from the perspective of the arsonist who was in his twenties when the author was born.Heivoll has returned to his hometown of Finsland, Norway to research this book and try to become a writer. He interviews those who knew the arsonist and he also gleans information from newspaper clippings and his grandmother’s diaries.The arsonist, Dag, is the son of the fire chief. He was a most wanted child, an only child and very much loved - good at everything he put effort into. During his early adulthood he goes into the military and returns home after some sort of rejection that is never made clear. He lolls around the house and follows his father on fire calls that, because Dag is setting the fires, become more frequent and horrific. At one point, there are eight fires set over a period of three days.Between May 6, 1978 through early June, 1978, ten fires are set, mostly to abandoned buildings and out buildings in Finsland. Towards the end of the pyromaniac’s rampage, however, buildings are burned with people or pets in them. They come just a hair’s breadth from losing their lives.The book goes into the lives of the people who live in Finsland, mostly farmers, who have known each other their whole lives. It is inconceivable to them that one of their own is starting these fires. How could this possibly be? They only know that the arsonist comes at night and they have been driven to ignore sleep and are forced to stand guard all night to protect their homes and belongings from the crazy person who is burning down the village home by home.Gaute Heivoll remembers clearly a time in school when one of his teachers told him he’d be a writer. He had gone to Oslo to study law but when it came time to take his exams, he turned in empty papers. He is afraid to be a writer yet drawn to a writing life and compelled to write at the same time. He is drawn in completely by the subject matter of this book.Mr. Heivoll is a child being Christened at the time that the fires start and he imagines what his life as an infant is like when those around him are so frightened and paranoid about the fires. The town is a quiet one and no one would ever suspect Dag, the perfect boy, of doing anything wrong. When his parents figure out it is Dag, the bottom falls out of their world.The book is poetically written and highly charged. It brings to life Mr. Heivoll’s own development as an author while examining the life of an arsonist who can not stop himself from his heinous actions. This book will appeal to those who like true crime and memoirs, along with literary fiction. I recommend it to anyone who treasures good writing and poetic use of language.

  • Linda
    2019-03-03 04:56

    Author's first novel, won a prize, and was nominated for others, in its native country, praised by critics and other authors - enough to reel me in. Sounds like a good book, right?Not this one. I was greatly disappointed in it. There is lyrical prose and an interesting case, but the juxtaposition of the narrator's life and the events of the town in which he was born and raised doesn't work for me. I kept waiting for the whole thing to jell. (My husband laughs at me for finishing books that I don't like - it's hard to explain to him that 1) it may get better or 2) it might actually come together at the end.)The narrator (Gaute Heivoll) is born just at the time of massive arson in his hometown and nearby areas. It's not long before the reader knows who the arsonist is and why he is doing it. What the reader, at least I, didn't know is quite how the narrator's telling of that story and his own fit together. He has decided to write about the arsons and gets interviews with people still alive who were involved. He also finds his grandmother's journals and finds references to the arsons. He broods on his father's death, his decision to become a writer and not a lawyer, and other personal matters.He fails to follow the arsonist very closely after his release, which left a huge gap for me. The man was obviously schizophrenic and when released, returns to his hometown and tries to lead a "normal" life. However, schizophrenics do not just spontaneously get well and there isn't any indication that he is being treated in any way to maintain his stability. The final recounting of the arsonist's life just didn't seem at all real and seemed tacked on.One very interesting item: In Norway, when a crime has been committed by an obviously (declared) insane person, that person is not required to put in a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty." They are only required to agree that they committed the crime.You may find this book more meaningful than I did. Maybe you can see the connection between the arsonist's story and the narrator's that I was missing. If you decide to read the book, I hope so.

  • Ian
    2019-02-22 06:57

    Gaute Heivoll’s enormously satisfying novel/memoir, Before I Burn, recounts a period from the spring of 1978, when the people of Finsland--a remote, sparsely populated region in southern Norway--were terrorized by a series of deliberately set fires that destroyed homes and ruined lives. Heivoll’s cast of characters is made up of the people who were resident there at the time, a list that includes his own parents and, eventually, himself since he is born in the midst of the crisis. The book is billed as a crime novel, and though crimes are committed in its pages and police arrive to investigate, the prose has an undeniable literary polish and the story’s unconventional structure constantly chafes against the restraints of the genre. The action follows three distinct threads. In Finsland in 1978 fires are being set and no one can figure out who is responsible. At the centre of this is Dag, a smart, talented and deeply troubled young man and son of the local fire chief. In 1998 the twenty-year-old Gaute Heivoll, watching his father slowly succumb to cancer and profoundly dissatisfied with the routine path his life seems to be following, deliberately sabotages his law exams. And in the contemporary thread, Gaute, now a writer in his thirties, has returned home to Finsland with the intention of conducting first-hand research into the circumstances surrounding the fires while some of the people who experienced the fear and panic of those weeks in 1978 are still alive. Psychologically penetrating and chillingly evocative of what it must be like to feel threatened and helpless in your own home and suffer emotional turmoil at the hands of a force that is unpredictable and lacks both a face and a shape, Before I Burn grips the reader from the first scene and doesn’t let go until the unsettling epilogue.

  • Ida Jackson
    2019-03-13 02:58

    Mens jeg leste Heivoll, tenkte jeg hele tiden: Hva er det som gjør at dette er en roman og ikke litterær sakprosa, egentlig? Før jeg brenner ned handler om en serie med faktisk påsatte branner på Sørlandet på 1970-tallet, og Heivoll har gjort omfattende research. Han er så varsom med materialet sitt at han spekulerer lite rundt en del hendelser det ellers hadde vært ekstremt interessant å få utforsket i en litterær kontekst. Istedenfor er han så forsiktig med hjembygda og alle aktørene i historien at boka noen ganger blir direkte langdryg fordi han skal ha med en masse småsteder og navn som er ravende likegyldig for meg som ikke-innfødt leser. Jeg tror jeg hadde vært mer tålmodig med alle de biografiske detaljene om jeg faktisk hadde plukket opp en sakprosabok. Når noen velger romanformen, ønsker jeg meg mer utforskning, særlig på den delen som er utilgjengelig for de fleste kildenære biografer: Den psykologiske. Istedenfor ligger Heivolls litterære uttrykk i å slenge på en del Åsne Seierstad-svulstige metaforer isteden. Og likevel: Dette er en bragd av en bok. Vekslingen mellom research, nåtid, selvbiografi og oppdiktede scener er dyktig gjort, og Heivoll har definitivt en historie å fortelle. Det er bare at jeg ikke likte den så godt som jeg hadde håpet på, og jeg tror den hadde kledd en kildeliste, en Ivo de Figueiredo-lignende touch.

  • Sean Owen
    2019-03-18 04:48

    Heivoll sets out to document a series of Arsons in a small Norweigan town in the late 70s. The initial concept here is interesting, but the execution leaves much to be desired. Heivoll happens to be from the town afflicted by the arsons and was born around the time of the arsons. While this connection may be what led Heivoll to explore the incidents, but he makes far too much of it. The chapters alternate between documenting the arsons and biographical sketches of the authors life; his birth, his decision to become a writer, his father's illness and death. The chapters focused on the arsons are well written and compelling. The characters and motivations are complex and compelling. Unfortunately the momentum and interest generated by these chapters is sapped when the author breaks away for yet another tiresome series of pages about himself. There was a great deal of promise here, but unfortunately any value has been lost in the author's solipsism.

  • Aino
    2019-03-09 06:01

    Koukuttava kirja, joka yhdistää kiehtovasti faktaa ja fiktiota, tiivistä jännitystarinaa ja psykologista pohdintaa, synkkyyttä ja kauneutta. Sopii myös/erityisesti niille, joita perinteiset jännärit eivät yleensä kiinnosta.

  • Sigrid
    2019-03-09 01:45

    Ok, so, the word I'm stuck with after reading this book is "interesting". I love the writing. The way the book is written, how the author describes everything - from the nature to the thoughts of the characters - it's beautiful and he is talented. And sometimes while reading I just really wanted to go write something myself. I also like the story in a way, but sometimes I just felt like it was dragging on for too long. Every now and then I had trouble focusing and I just wanted the story to end. There is a lot to focus on, a lot of stories melted together, which is sometimes fine and even good, but several times I found myself not wanting to know every single detail of random stories that happened to pop in to the authors head. Because that's what it felt like sometimes. Still, all in all, I think I liked this book. Despite it being very different from my preferred genre and probably not something I would have decided to read just like that. Well written book, interesting story, it just kind of annoyed me and I don't really have a good reason why.

  • Lynne
    2019-02-26 04:51

    This dark novel about an arsonist in a small rural Norwegian town is beautifully written in spare, evocative prose. For me, this made the terrific fear, despair, and horror all the more compelling. The main character's obsession with the arsons the year he was born, becomes ours. I'm still thinking about the haunting last line, "my dear, Let me put this into words before I burn." I think it is about the legacy of always feel it can happen again at any moment.

  • Jim Angstadt
    2019-03-14 03:45

    Before I BurnGaute HeivollThis is a story about arson in a small town in Norway in the 1970s. The story moved slowly. The characters were not particularly interesting, and the 'action', or lack of it, was not satisfying. Bailed.

  • Fox
    2019-03-05 06:56

    I wish I had enjoyed this book as much as I was expecting to. Overall, the most I can say about this book is-- 'Not bad.'The sections about the arsonist I liked. Those sections were interesting and enjoyable. The remaining sections, which were primarily about the author's family history, I found boring and not at all necessary. They did not have a huge connection to the story of the fires at all. Unless of course you count that he and the arsonist lived in the same town, and were associated with some of the same people. Even that is a vague connection considering that the author (or the fictional character based around the author--I never could figure that out) was not born until the arsonist was already identified and arrested. I wish there had been more about the motives of the arsonist. His motives were not explained in great detail, but I wish they had been. It would have given the book more of a conclusion and a more satisfying ending. I liked this book, but it could have been better. Maybe the great aspects of this story were lost in translation along the way.

  • Heidi
    2019-02-20 08:06

    Tätä oli kehuttu monessa kirjablogissa, joten uskalsin odottaa hyvää lukukokemusta. En pettynyt. Tarina on järkyttävä ja surullinen, inhimillinen, todella kauniisti kirjoitettu. En aluksi tajunnut kirjan olevan autofiktiivinen. Kirjan kertoja on Gaute Heivoll itse ja ilmeisesti myös tarinan pyromaani ja koko pieni kylä asukkaineen ovat todellisia.Kirjailija kertoo pyromaanin tarinaa limittäin omian muistelmiensa kanssa. Vaikka pyromaani selvästi on lopulta kaukana raiteiltaan ja hänen tekonsa hirveitä, kirjailija näkee hänessä jotain, minkä tunnistaa itsessäänkin. Kiltteyden, ainoan lapsen osan, läheisten suuret odotukset - ja hirvittävän pettymyksen, kun odotuksia ei pystykään täyttämään. Molemmat käyvät romahduksen partaalla. Toinen selviää, mutta toinen ei koskaan saa lupaavasti alkanutta elämäänsä järjestykseen. Yksi asia jäi silti kaivelemaan: Mitä sille kaverille oikein tapahtui siellä armeijassa?

  • Gulin
    2019-02-23 02:52

    Aslında 3,5 yıldız vermek istiyordum..Dili sade. Tasvirler, uzun ağdalı betimlemeler yok. Durum, olay ve Karakterler abartıdan ve yorumdan uzak anlatılmış ki bu durum da kitabin akıcı olmasını sağlıyor.. Tur icin Ruhsal ÇözümlemeKonu Norveç'in bir kasabasında meydana gelen yangınlar ve onun arkasında ki piromanin hayatı. Bu yangınları yıllar sonra roman olarak yazmak isteyen ve yangınlar sırasında o kasabada Dunyaya gelen bir yazarın hayatinı da paralelinde okuyoruz. Yazar ile piroman arasında duygu aktarımları yapılarak birbirlerinin zıtlıkları ve benzerlikleri uzerinden Hayatları irdelenmistir. Bu Yöntem Kitabın genelinde güzel uygulanmış olsa da bazı bölümlerde cok zorlanmış hissi veriyordu.Genel değerlendirmemle okumaya deger, yeni seyler öğrenmeyi sağlayacak bir kitap.Not: yazarımız 2010 da bu kitapla brage ödülü almıştır.

  • Susan Ritz
    2019-03-17 05:49

    Thought this was an interesting way to weave true crime and memoir into one story. As you might expect from a Norwegian author, this book has is dark and melancholic, but I was happy to see that there was none of the Nesbo brutality I've come to expect from these Scandinavian authors. Instead, I found a story of a small town beset by fear and a meditation on fathers and sons that reminded me of Per Petterson. Though at times the connections between the two parts of the book was less than clear, overall, I think Heivoll pulled off the difficult feat of viewing his own life in the context of his community and its history. Thanks again, Graywolf Press for another great read that was truly out of the ordinary.

  • Henrik
    2019-03-17 08:01

    Denne fikk Brageprisen. Og terningkast seks av flere. Om man skal tro omslaget på boka er det mange litteraturforståere som roser den opp i himmelen.Historien er bra, man vil vite hva som skjer. Jeg skjønte ikke om den var bygget på en sann historie.Men skrivemåten virker umoden og oppbygningen lite gjennomarbeidet. Den hopper mellom tider, noe som kan være en fin måte å stable en roman på bena. Men her blir det rotete og nærmest en kjedelig oppramsing av like hendelser. Den er fylt opp av klisjeer og dårlig ordlyd. F.eks. er det stappet med fyllord som "litt", "ganske", "noe", og "nesten". Det er mange formuleringer av typen "etter litt frem og tilbake så ..."Anbefales ikke, dessverre.

  • Marla
    2019-03-16 08:39

    Something was lost in translation for me, I think. The story based on an actual bit of Norwegian history, has two threads, one being a series of fires in 1970's Norway and the other about a man who was born the year the first fire occurred (he is writing a book about it). There is no mystery. You know the arsonist early on. There isn't a psychological aspect to it as it never really tackles the "why" of it. I kept waiting for something to happen. Nope. It's a small book, but I was speed reading the last half. It's very factual and dry. "And then we did..." "And then this happened..." Snore.

  • ♡Susanna
    2019-03-21 05:55

    I've heard several people say that this was a good - or even an excellent - book but I can't agree with them. The story remained distant to me, I could not relate to it even though I also was an obedient and conscientious child and I also feel that I have let down the (occupational) expectations of my parents. Still, I found the text rambling and tiresome. Not the worst book I've read but somehow there was nothing for me...

  • fleegan
    2019-03-12 05:00

    What a great book. It has everything I love in a Scandicrime, and yet, it's not a typical procedural. The writing is gorgeous, and really lays it on heavy with the melancholy. I felt heavy as I read the book.The book is about a series of arsons in Norway in the late 1970s, but really, it's about relationships of different generations of fathers and sons. In that way it reminded me a bit of Per Petterson's books, but it's not written in the same way as Petterson's books.

  • Camilla Glende
    2019-03-05 00:47

    Sterkt og engasjerende om en historie fra virkeligheten, om pyromanen som herjet hjembygda til forfatteren det året han ble født. Pyromanens historie kobles sammen med forfatterens egen. Gode skildringer og en psykologisk dybde som gjør inntrykk. Anbefales!

  • Stein Roar
    2019-03-11 00:52

    Stor roman av Gaute Heivoll. Han har fiksjonalisert det som skjedde rundt brannene som herjet Finsland sommeren 1978. Parallelt forteller han også sin egen historie. Han viser også at det er tilfeldigheter som gjør oss til det vi blir. Noen blir pyromaner og andre forfattere. Meget godt skrevet!

  • Ine Espevik
    2019-03-02 03:00

    Great story of a pyromaniac parallel to the author's own life. I'm definetely going to read more of Gaute Heivoll.

  • Ken Fredette
    2019-03-15 03:51

    I'm sorry but I didn't like the way Gaute Heivoll wrote the book. It was a actual account of an arsonist and it won the Brage Prize which is Norway's most prestigious literary award.

  • Rebecka
    2019-02-19 07:42

    I very much preferred De skyldfrie. This one hasn’t quite got the same depth and feeling to it, even though I like how the author uses the same setting and mentions some of the same buildings for example in both books, like he is creating a small universe of his own. I don’t think the mix of the fires/pyromaniac and the narrator’s own life was necessarily a good idea here though. On or the other would have been better.

  • Gard
    2019-03-13 04:48

    Godt skrevet om den mørke siden av menneskesinnet og om frykten man må kjenne på med en ukjent pyroman i hjembygda. Fasinerende å lese om hvordan en pyroman (antageligvis) tenker. Det som ødelegger lesegleden litt for meg er nettopp forfatterens gjetninger og antagelser. For å gjøre historien mer genuin burde forfatteren burde ha forsøkt å få et intervju med pyromanen selv.Men alt i alt en ålreit og lettlest bok.

  • Marcia
    2019-02-27 01:50

    I love this author's style....the juxtaposition of eras and the narrative are amazing. The dark plot intrigued me and the characters were so finely drawn, I feel that I would recognize them on the street. Even the fires are vivid and distinct. This is actually two stories woven together....the narrator's tale of making his way and the arsonist's tale of losing his way. This book made me want to write!

  • Audrey Webster
    2019-02-25 06:51

    I was prepared not to like this book, but the author drew me in. Story of both the narrator and the life of the one setting the fires.

  • Joan Kerr
    2019-03-08 06:06

    This is a book as deep, still, and reflective as Lake Livannet, which is everywhere in the book, accompanying the writer Gaute as he sits as his desk trying to reconstruct the story of the deliberately-lit fires that terrorised his peaceful rural hometown thirty years ago, the year he was born.It’s a book about the love between parents and children, the trust between neighbours, and the consciousness of death. It’s a book about becoming a writer, and about the way the writer voyages in his imagination every day, hesitantly, then more surely, at times exultantly, at times with blankness and despair. It’s about how a book can arise from memory with a truth that is utterly unadorned. You can't help but compare with Knausgaard, who gives the book a glowing recommendation on the cover. This is work of a higher order than Knausgaard’s.Heivoll doesn’t hide from us who the young pyromaniac is, though it's a mystery to the townsfolk. The imaginative force goes into making us see him from the outside and the inside, and from an identification the writer feels with what fire means to the young man.I have seen all of this. A house is burning at night. It is the first few minutes, before people have been alerted. The house stands there alone and no one can save it. It has been left to its fate, to its destruction. The flames and the smoke are being sucked up into the sky, or so it seems; there are creaks and groans, like distant responses. It is frightening, it is terrible and it is beyond comprehension. And it is almost beautiful (11)There are parallels between the two young men: both are outsiders among the other teenagers, not disliked but seen as other, and both fall off the rails of the ordinarily achieving life it seems they were meant to lead. Who can say why one becomes an arsonist and the other finds himself as a writer?I read with a passion and voracity no one understood, perhaps not even me. They were books that filled me with dreams. They were books that slowly did things to me, that made me wish myself in other places. Something inside me began to wander. At the beginning no one noticed anything, but something inside me had left a long time ago and I was in a slow outward drift. At that same time there was also something in me that wanted to stay. There was something that would remain forever in the safe and the secure, the familiar and the simple, in the region I, in my heart of hearts, loved so much I felt so bound to this place, partly because my father was. (109)Something inside me began to wander….I was in a slow outward drift…there was also something in me that wanted to stay. This is as true of the young pyromaniac as it is of Gaute.There are so many pleasures in this book: its beautiful pacing and layering, the visual clarity and resonance of the natural world, the subtle conveying of character and relationship, the wonderful depiction of the last months of Gaute’s father’s life until the point where the father, once a champion aerial skier, lies on his bed:It was as if he were floating, he was stretched out in the air, he had taken off from the ramp and lay flat, and he was floating, he had the air and the darkness roaring in his face. (191)It’s a book to read slowly and to savour, a book that will stay with you. A best-seller in Norway, it won the Brage Prize and was nominated for the Critics Prize and the Booksellers' Prize, and has been sold to more than twenty countries. Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjaerg is said to be interested in a film.

  • Full Stop
    2019-03-17 01:56 by Will HeywardThe easy way of saying it is that Before I Burn is a novel about a pyromaniac who, in 1978, deliberately started a number of dangerous fires in Finsland, a region in rural Norway. But these fires really happened. Of course, that isn’t so surprising: many novels involve the retelling of terrible historical events in order to provoke the imagination of readers. Typical also is that the action is narrated in a conventional, free, indirect discourse. An example: ‘He made short work of it. There wasn’t a moment for anything else. Cars might pass by on the road at any moment. He doused a number of poles with the remains of the petrol. A single match and the flames raced high up the wall.’ So this seems to be a novel that creates fiction from actual events by using a traditional novelistic technique. So far, so familiar. That Gaute Heivoll is not just the author of Before I Burn, but also its principal character and narrator, of course, complicates things.In 1978, Heivoll was a newborn child living with his mother and father in Finsland. Barely a year old, he was naturally unaware of the fires that terrorised his community. Years later, however, as a young writer in search of a subject for a novel, Heivoll began researching the pyromaniac who had devastated the scene of his childhood. Much of what he discovered were personal details about his family and friends, information that brought to the surface childhood memories, dreams, and fantasies, and which implicated Heivoll himself in the novel he was writing. So, Before I Burn is not merely a conventional retelling of historical events (a novel based on a true story, as they say in the movies); it is also a novel that describes the circumstances of its own creation, otherwise called a work of metafiction. The problem, of course, is that on face value (without researching beyond the pages of Before I Burn), I don’t know if Heivoll really grew up in Finsland in 1978, or if the writer-narrator character named “Gaute Heivoll” is the very same Gaute Heivoll as the author. Metafictions, that is to say, don’t just describe the circumstances of their creation: they invent those circumstances.The tension between Gaute Heivoll, the author, and “Gaute Heivoll”, the seemingly fictional writer-narrator, is (far more so than the story of Dag the firebug) what gives Before I Burn its insistent credibility. This tension, which is for the most part unspoken, is established early in the book as the narrator traces his earliest awareness of the fires: ‘Ever since early childhood I have been told of the story of the fires. At the beginning it was my parents who told me, but it wasn’t until I grew up and heard it from others that I realised in fact it was all true.’ This child-like uncertainty between fact and fiction that Heivoll describes is the condition of his novel, and the condition that binds the two Heivolls. In order to understand and recreate the fires, Heivoll must return to his childhood, and to the time before he was grown up, before he ‘knew it was all true.’Read more here: