Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Strident Publishing (9 Feb 2010)
Pierre Anthon left school the day he found out that it was not worth doing anything as nothing mattered anyhow. The rest of us stayed behind. And even though the teachers carefully cleared up after Pierre Anthon in the class room as well as in our heads, a bit of Pierre Anthon remained within us. Perhaps this is why things later happened the way they did ...
Thus begins the story of Pierre Anthon, a thirteen year old boy, who leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing. "Everything begins just in order to end. The moment you were born you began to die, and that goes for everything else as well." Pierre Anthon shouts and continues: "The whole thing is just one immense play which is about pretending and about being best at exactly that."
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I was so excited when I read the blurb to this book, I could tell it was going to be different and special with a “meaning” and I was to be proved right. (Thanks to Strident Publishing for the ARC to this by the way!) I loved the look and feel of the book once I got it, and I stuck right it, and I was to finish it not long after and sit there with a satisfied feeling, mixed with a somewhat feeling of loss. It was beautiful, and depending on how you view it, it can have a profound effect on how you see life.
Analysis of plot:
It all starts with a 13 year old boy, Pierre Anthon who one day realises that there’s no “meaning” to life, and that nothing matters since everything is meaningless. He sets himself up in a tree and yells to everyone passing about his pessimistic view of the world, while still maintaining that he was merely being truthful. This strikes the match that would eventually set fire to the story. His fellow classmates want to prove to him that it isn’t true and with determination that only such young teens could have, set about trying to prove that there was meaning to life. One by one as they each give up something that means something to them, readers come to realise the diversity and mix of items which give people’s lives “meaning.” Teller portrays a mix of characters who give up a range of items, in order to prove to Pierre Anthon that objects of meaning still existed. Through this, Teller shows how faith, religion, innocence, life, blood, family, all define meaning in individual’s lives. While the inclusion of items may be heavy handed issues and strike up controversy, it can’t be denied that Teller has portrayed all this in a light handed manner through the narrative of a young girl, who only sees what happens as something that was necessary and meant to be in order to show Pierre Anthon that there still was meaning to life. Beautifully and poetically written (something I could still see despite the English translation from Danish) it influences and makes you think about the meaning of life; you either see it or you don’t.
Analysis of characters:
I loved the range of characters, who showed so much fire and determination in creating a pile of items that would have meaning. Each character, from Angus to Sofie brought something to the table and it showed that they really dug deep within themselves to bring out what meant most to them. Some even changed over the course of the book, such as the character of Sofie and this shows readers how what can define you, and mean most to you, having that taken away, can change you.
I found this to be a profoundly meaningful read and its simplicity was beautiful, something that Jenne Teller should be praised for! She’s weaved in poetry, issues, and great story telling to convey the meaning of life. I just wish it was longer so I could keep on going.