Author: Erlend Loe
Originally Published: 2004
This is a top shelf book.
Doppler is a bestseller in Scandinavia, a Chapters/Indigo Spotlight title, and was named one of the books of the year by The Guardian. A small book, almost novella in size at just over one hundred and seventy pages, hardcover yet still pocket-sized and with an unassuming outline of a moose on the cover, it doesn’t seem to hold much heft to it. How much can someone really say in such a small amount of time? Is it possible that all of the critics and readers alike were wrong in their perception of this book?
It is always a possibility but in this case they were spot on.
I was transported into the world of Doppler instantly. I never felt as if I was waiting for the story to start or for something to grab me. Oftentimes translated books can feel a little awkward, especially at first before you get a feel for how it’s written, but not this time. It was smooth, simple, and straightforward with its language.
The cover of Doppler contains the tag line, “A modern day fable about a man and his moose.” The title character indeed adopts himself a baby moose after a run-in with its mother with which he has multiple hilarious conversations with. He offers insight in to what the moose, who he christens Bongo, is thinking and how Bongo does not seem to be very bright as he doesn’t respond appropriately to his questions or requests.
But this is not just about Doppler and Bongo, who are living in the forest together a mere few kilometres away from Doppler’s family down in Oslo (seriously); this is, as that line suggests, a fable about our lives today. As much of a lesson as it a charmer, Doppler offers great insight on modern lives and what we really need to carry on comfortably in normal circumstances, after loss, and when we’re feeling as if life isn’t what we wanted it to be. Throughout the book you meet a plethora of odd characters that add substance to the story and whose personal backgrounds are woven brilliantly in to the already existing plot. A daughter who speaks Elvish, a son who also is a forest man, a pregnant wife, a man trying to honour the father he never met with a model scene of a World War II battle, a thief, a man who wants to create a brotherhood conference to bring religions together, and a man with his moose existing together in this little world in Norway, somehow doing it quite simply despite the complexities within them, and enhancing each other while they’re at it.
Doppler is adorable, intelligent, and irreverent. I laughed out loud many times and found myself smiling the rest of it. Often surprising with what it is willing to say (wait until you hear about Chopper Doppler) but still, somehow with everything and everyone happening in it, easily existing within its small amount of pages. There are far too many good things to say about this book and I feel as if I could go on forever. Read it yourself – you’ll see.