VOICES AT THE LATE HOUR by Bo Carpelan

VOICES AT THE LATE HOUR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

First published in 1971, this is a dark rumination on the brief life after a nuclear holocaust--the first of Scandinavian writer Carpelan's novels to be translated into English. It's June in Finland, and Tomas, Vera, and their young son, Martin, are about to take a vacation in the country--it's the annual Midsummer get-together with relatives. Suddenly, on Friday evening, there's a nuclear explosion far to the North. Arriving at their country place, Tomas finds that others have managed to get through--his cousin Bert, Bert's wife Helena, Bert's sister Rosa, and her husband Max. Along with Tomas' mother, they make the eight voices that resonate throughout this book in the one day before Sunday's second nuclear explosion ends life on earth (a cause for the war--or even who exactly the combatants are--is never given). Grandmother relates her escape from another historical disaster (the Russian Revolution); Bert recalls his alienation from his father; Vera talks about Tomas' short affair with Helena; Helena explains her frigidity; and Tomas fights his own anxiety. Didactic and brooding, but nevertheless haunting in the ordinary humanity of people faced with the unthinkable: ""This god who blows up the globe and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand."" All in all, a series of small monologues--each character steps forward as if on stage--with a result that is thought-provoking and poignant.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia Press