Original title: Vassarv
Publisher: Forlaget Oktober, 2023
Pages: 226 pages
It’s hot, and the housemartins swoop over Schweigaards gate and Oslo prison, over the stone sculptures, syringes, the prison wall, asphalt and cement; over picnics of kiwi and melon, over dandelion, willowherb and wild pansies. The housemartins swoop over the ditch where the digger digs at the Hovin Stream. On Harald Hardrådes plass, bus 37 negotiates the roundabout and continues down the street. A goods train comes along the railway tracks laden with timber. Over Gamlebyen’s school, Bispegården and the monastery ruins, the housemartins swoop. The housemartins swoop along Dronning Eufemias gate, over the bridge to Sukkerbiten, the Opera and the Munch Museum, and the sign that says not to feed the birds. In Gamlebyen, in the courtyard, the girls sing at the top of their voices, and inside the climbing frame, in the little hut, sits my daughter.
A mother drives across the country, over the fells from east to west, with her daughter strapped into the child seat in the back. To the daughter the trip is a passage through endless hours and landscapes, to the mother it becomes a journey in and out of contrasting times, to what used to be a home.
Starweed is a novel about being four years old, about wishing you had a pet, about discovering the world on your own – and about a mother’s joys and sorrows at seeing her child grow up. It’s a novel too about transitions in life, about the fractures we suffer in detaching away into lives of our own, in daughterhood and motherhood.
Bråtveit’s story shifts subtly and powerfully between the everyday and the sublime, with keen and unfailing awareness of the brutal procession of our lives.