The Horse-Head Nebula
The eleven-year-old Tom grows up in post-war Oslo with his mother – the painter Lister – and her two lovers. The war continues to cast its shadows: Tom’s father is dead, murdered for his activities as a traitor and a informer to the Germans, and Lister finds herself persecuted in Oslo’s bars and cafes due to the reputation she has gained as the mistress of the Head of the German Security during the Occupation. Yet the propelling drama in The Horse-head Nebula occurs equally fully in the present. With Tom as an observer, the novel leads us straight into the tension-laden interplay between Lister, the playboy Robert and the writer Munken. The erotic aspects are underscored when the voluptuous housemaid Helga arrives from Iceland, and for Tom this becomes the jolt of sexual awakening. With a focus which is constantly shifting between these five characters, The Horse-Head Nebula delineates the erotic power-play between them using a compact and intimate language. Christmas Eve 1951 turns out to be a burlesque highlight.