First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday – ‘Doppler’ by Erlend Loe


First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea – it’s is a weekly meme where you share the first paragraph (or two) from a book you are considering reading.

I picked up Doppler by Erland Loe because I loved the cover, I loved its compact size (this is a book you want to slip reassuringly into your dressing-gown pocket), and because I haven’t read anything Norwegian yet for the Translation reading challenge.

It begins –

“My Father is dead. And yesterday I took the like of an elk. What can I say? It was either her or me. I was starving. I’m beginning to get quite thin, I really am. The night before, I was down in the Maridalen district of Oslo and helped myself to some hay from one of the farms. I cut open one of the bales with my knife and filled my rucksack. Then I slept for a bit, and at daybreak I went down to the ravine east of camp and spread out the hay as bait in a place I had long considered perfect for an ambush. Afterwards I lay on the side of the ravine and waited for several hours. I knew there were elk here. I’d seen them. They’ve even been right up by the tent. They lumber around here on the ridge apparently following their own rational impulses. Always on the move, elk are. They seem to think all other pastures are greener. And perhaps they’re right. Anyway, in the end one came along. With its calf tagging behind. That put me off a bit, that did, the calf being there. I would have preferred it if it hadn’t been there. But it was. And the wind was coming from just the right direction. I put the knife in my mouth, not the little one, the big one, the big knife, and waited. The two elk were ambling slowly towards me. Nibbling at the heather and some of the young birch trees down in the ravine. And at last there it stood. Right beneath me. A hell of a size. Elk are big. It’s easy to forget how big they are. I leaped onto its back. Of course I had rehearsed the routine in my head dozens of times before. I had anticipated that she wasn’t going to like it and would try to get away. And I was right. But before she managed to get any speed up, I had driven the knife down into its head. With one mighty thrust the knife had gone right through the elk’s skull and into its brain, from which it stuck out like a slightly odd hat. I jumped off and crawled to safety on a large rock while the elk saw its life flashing before its eyes: all the good days of plentiful food, the lazy, hazy, days of summer, the brief love affair with the bull during the autumn breeding season and the subsequent loneliness. The birth and the joy of having passed on the genes, but also the taxing winter months of earlier years, and the restlessness, that unsettled force from which, for all I know, she may have considered it a relief to be delivered. She went through all this in a few short seconds before she dropped.”

Phew! Is that a first paragraph record?! You can keep reading here if you’d like more – what do you think?

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