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It is in an interview with Knausgaard that I first hear mentioned Fosse.

Both are Norwegian writers and, what is more, Knausgaard was Fosse’s student.

Then, not too long ago, I hear Fosse mentioned again, this time as winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2023.

The Academy chose him “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”

Being just another dutiful reader, I look into Fosse’s opus and am drawn to his “Septology” because it is written in mostly block paragraphs and is one run-on sentence.

I immediately place a hold on “The Other Name” — Books I and II of his “Septology” — and am excited to receive the “Pickup by” notification a week or so later.

The prose is straightforward with a limited palette of mostly primary colors mixed, at times, to make secondary tones.

That is to say, there is a lot of repetition in the work, main themes in an interior monologue introduced then revisited over and over with a few episodes that deviate from these main themes and some dialogue peppered throughout.

The work happens over the course of two days.

Probably the most innovative section, in my opinion, of course, happens when the narrator is on the edge of drifting off to sleep between the two days.

If it’s possible for prose to capture with words that interstitial space between the hum of consciousness and the blankness of deep sleep, Fosse succeeds.

Another “device” Fosse employs with success happens by virtue of filling so much of the work using a limited palette to paint the monotony of the quotidian over and over again, so that when he does deviate into episodes from the narrator’s memory, they are filled with such light that they leave phantom images on the back of your eyelids.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.

Although I have read more powerful books by Nobel prizewinners, and many more books in general that have kept my attention enthralled for more sustained periods — in “The Other Name” I drifted off to sleep more than a few times, and always straight to the blankness of deep sleep — I feel the work does faithfully render the stoic and, at the same time, emotional life of a deeply flawed artist seeking to paint God’s light.

And now I leave you with Fosse’s Banquet Speech:

Your Majesties
Your Royal Highnesses
Esteemed Laureates
Ladies and gentlemen

Many years ago, I saw myself – not in a dream, or in a daydream, more like in a vision – walking along the side of a road leading to the centre of a town.

When I saw myself there, some day in the future, I saw myself walking as someone who had received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Because of this vision – to be honest with you, I felt rather sure that I one day would be standing here.

Thank you to the Nobel Foundation for organizing everything so well.

Thank you to the Swedish Academy for awarding me the Nobel Prize in Literature.

And thanks be to God.

December 11, 2023 12:59 pm

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