Sleep or Speak of Love
I gave my sister-in-law a vibrator for her birthday. A little red thing, nicely covered in matt plastic. We were alone when I gave it to her, it was a Tuesday, and when she was done unwrapping it and looked at me, I said it; that this must be the perfect gift, given how much her husband travelled. Ulla stood with one fist clenched around it, only some of the red and black bottom where the salesman had shown me how to adjust the speed, was visible.
If you like, this can be a secret, I said. Nobody needs to know, if you don’t want them to.
Jan, she said.
Wasn’t she laughing, just a little?
She looked down and drew her fingers through her hair.
This was strange, she said.
A man with no clothes on is taken care of by the police after having tried to steal a banana. He cannot remember his name or where he comes from – at least that’s what he says. None the less he is identified rather quickly; his name is Jan Olav Tområ and he has been missing for three weeks. So he goes back to his family, a wife and two young children, and starts to rediscover how he lived and who he was. But can he trust what he is told by those who know him? And can the reader trust what he says he knows about himself?
Every chapter is an independent story, a short story of sorts, in which Jan Olav Tområ appears in different situations at different times in his life. What recurs, and constitutes the protagonist, is attraction and desire, desperate passion and an ambiguous drive that almost seems to feed on itself. All of the five stories begin in one existential cul-de-sac, and ends – with a sort of triumphant malicious pleasure – in another.