On his first day of school, a teacher welcomes Audun to the class by asking him to describe his former life in the country.
But there are stories about his family he would prefer to keep to himself, such as the weeks he spent living in a couple of cardboard boxes, and the day of his little brother's birth, when his drunken father fired three shots into the ceiling.
So he refuses to talk and refuses to take off his sunglasses.
In his late teens Audun is the only one of his family who remains with his mother in their home in a working-class district of Oslo.
He delivers newspapers when he is not in school and talks for hours about Jack London and Ernest Hemingway with his best friend Arvid.
But he's not sure that school is the right path for him, feeling that life holds other possibilities.
Sometimes tender, sometimes brutal, "It's Fine by Me" is a brilliant novel from the acclaimed author of "Out Stealing Horses".
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 208 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 03/11/2011
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781846553691
- Paperback from £6.65
- EPUB from £3.99
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by oldblack
I like Petterson's style, and although I don't think this is his best book, I still found it very enjoyable. His characters are very introspective and observant about their relationships. The main character is only young, but he speaks with a mature voice and this is certainly not YA genre. It's been about 40 years since I read it, but "It's Fine By Me" reminded me a lot of Camus' "The Outsider". Petterson is about my age and he writes about his own times (this is set in the Vietnam War days, when Petterson was a teenager) which is another reason that I found resonance with his story.
Review by TheJeanette
What was it like to be a teenager in Oslo in 1970? For Audun Sletten, it's not a particularly pleasant life. He's a sullen young man, prone to drunkenness and apathy, and already quite defeated for one so young. We learn some of what made him that way as he alternates between present and past tense, telling stories from his 13th year in 1965 and his 18th year in 1970.I have very much enjoyed some of Per Petterson's other novels, but I had to force myself to finish this one. The prose is up to Petterson's usual standards and the translation is excellent, but IT'S FINE BY ME is essentially plotless. The 1970 Audun drinks a lot, gets in fights, wanders the city aimlessly, and plays at radical politics. He goes to school, then drops out to take a dead-end job where he can't seem to stay out of trouble. He grieves for a lost brother, and lives in fear of the return of his abusive, alcoholic father. Audun's stories from 1965 give us more insight into the family dynamics that made him the way he is. I enjoyed the stories from his younger self a little more because he hadn't yet given up on the world and himself. He was still participating and trying to enjoy life.If you've read IN THE WAKE and I CURSE THE RIVER OF TIME, you'll enjoy seeing Arvid Jansen as a youngster in this book. He's Audun's only friend, and he was the one bright spot in the story for me. Arvid sees Audun for what he truly is. He tells him, "Do you know something, Audun. Nothing's fine by you. Absolutely nothing." And he's right. We can only hope Audun will overcome some of his anger and stop keeping the world at bay. Otherwise he's doomed to remain miserable and directionless.Those with a low tolerance for foul language may want to steer clear of this novel. The cursing is not excessive, but it's realistically regular throughout the book.
Review by presto
At the age of thirteen Audun moves with his family, but without his father, to a working class area on the east of Oslo. Audun is self assured but reserved, and already had determined how he will conduct himself inn his new home. Almost despite himself he strikes up a close friendship with fellow schoolboy and near neighbour, Arvid, a friendship that will see him through the rest of his schooling.The novel follows Audun to his nineteenth year, by which time just he lives with his mother, while the shadow of his father still lurks somewhere. Both Audun and Arvid are independent thinkers, and neither is the sort to take the course of inaction, so it is not surprising they get in the odd scrape. But is is clear that while he rubs many up the wrong way, Audun endears himself to some of his neighbours as well of some of the those with whom he works - as no doubt he will to the reader.It's Fine By Me is a relatively short read, but far from short in content and impact. Characters are well drawn and convincing, and it is this that really makes if it so fully engaging.