I Curse the River of Time is a sad book about Arvid Jansen, a man trying to cross a divide between himself and his dying mother. At the same time his marriage is failing and the Berlin Wall is coming down. Things are coming to an end in his life.
Jansen remembers decisions he made, particularly the one to leave university and join the Communist party. As the wall falls, he considers his loss of faith in the party.
In contemplating his failing marriage, he also remembers his courtship of a young girl, although it is not clear whether he is thinking about his wife. He goes to his mother’s home country of Denmark, to a beach house where his family spent the summers, and recalls his childhood bond with his mother.
The novel is moody and inconclusive, and for some reason I kept expecting it to become sinister, although it did not. Even though the novel is focused around his attempts to reconcile with his mother (although that is perhaps not the correct word since there has not been a falling out–she is simply cold and unresponsive to him), it seems to me that Jansen thinks about her too much, is too obsessed with her.
The writing is excellent, spare but full of details. However, the entire feel of the novel is tenuous. There does not seem to be much to fasten onto.