...a style that tends towards torrents of unpunctuated sentences, relentless blasts against conventional syntax and the reader’s patience. Fosse calls this 'slow prose', yet this doesn’t necessarily make for slow reading; you can fight a current, trying to cling to what you know, or you can let go and take the risk of drowning ... This lack of sincerity and self-belief is what, paradoxically, makes Fosse far more sincere than his student Knausgaard, and indeed many an author of confidently narcissistic autofiction. Fosse’s style makes demands on its reader. And at a time when the scope of so many novels has narrowed to what their thinly disguised authors ate for breakfast, Fosse’s belief that writing about mundane details can lead us away from the kitchen table and to the discovery of 'something that silently speaks in and behind the words and sentence' makes his Septology , for all its self-doubt, worth every risk of reading.
The sum of the action is Asle’s trip to the city to drop off paintings with his gallerist and visit his namesake. Regularly the narration blends into his memories as a young man leaving home and taking up painting. A haunting sense of doubling recurs, not only with the second Asle but with a lost love named Ales who persists in a ghostly form in his work. What is even more palpable in this book is the way that the writing is meant to replicate the pulse and repetitive phrasing of liturgical prayer ... These unique books ask you to engage with the senses rather than the mind, and their aim is to bring about the momentary dissolution of the self.
Asle is a gentle, somewhat fretful narrator, and Fosse masterfully arranges the strands of the different narratives as they lap against each other and occasionally contradict. The result is meditative and cyclical, yet surprisingly accessible.