I love The Paris Review, the feeling of immersion into good interviews, where writers are peeled off their layers until raw essence is verbalized. I peruse it for the language, the titles, the revealing dialogues, the inspiration for reading, which equals, most of the times, the unexpectedly pleasant discovery of new writers. Dorthe Nors is one of such moments of serendipity and Karate Chop is among the best borrowed books I read in US.
A karate chop slices the sealed air and delivers a slanting stroke of the hand against an object, a person, a limb, a heart, a row of words, a life, some accumulating fear or the invisible face of the reader. This is how it feels when you read Dorthe Nors- hard-hitting, condensed sequences of ordinary life captured in a volume of 15 stories that hits you hard. They have inducing titles and unexpected endings, snippets of random existences shadowed by fear. Fifteen stories in 82 pages may be short, yet they are vivid and dark-humored, dainty and ripe with life resurrected, life reinvented, life mocked at and life full with more life. There is no inertia, yet there is not sparkling wit. They keep the reader balanced, hardly ever pushed to the limits or challenged to utter harsh truths.
In one story, Female Killers, the writer tells us about one of her female characters: Maybe that's why she opens doors in the mind. Doors, stairwells, pantries. This is how reading feels to the familiar eye, as well- as if opening endless doors into lives and dreams, into yourself and the author alike. The unique sensation is that of touching the inner fibers of the narrative and intruding into the very details that make the human heart. Building and unmaking characters, the intricacy of their inner motions in and out of themselves is trans-lucid in Dorthe Nors' writing as if a magnifying glass were attached to the reader's eyes. Violence, cruelty, compassion, self-doubt, randomness all pile up in-between the pages of a miniature string of stories.
Dorthe Nors is a Danish, promising, introspective writer, author of three novels and two novellas and a welcoming presence in Karate Chop, where sometimes almost nothing happens, yet in such a descriptive manner that gives it more substance than one should find in the fullness of everything.