Excerpt: 'The Boathouse' by Jon Fosse
I don’t go out anymore, a restlessness has come over me, and I don’t go out. It was this summer that the restlessness came over me. I met Knut again, I hadn’t seen him for at least ten years. Knut and I, we were always together. A restlessness has come over me. I don’t know what it is, but the restlessness aches in my left arm, in my fingers. I don’t go out anymore. I don’t know why, but it is several months since I was last outside the door. It is this restlessness. That is why I have decided to write, I am going to write a novel. I have to do something. This restless- ness is killing me. Perhaps writing will help. It was this summer the restlessness came over me. I met Knut again. He had got married, had two daughters. When we were kids Knut and I were always together. And Knut left. I called his name, but Knut just left. A restlessness has come over me. I looked at his back. I didn’t know what to say, I just saw Knut standing there, down on the road, and then he walked away down the road. I haven’t seen him since. My friend Knut, I hadn’t seen him for at least ten years, and then I saw him again this summer. Knut’s wife. A yellow rain jacket. The denim jacket. Her eyes. Knut is a music teacher, came home for the holidays. I’m more than thirty years old, and I haven’t made anything of my life. I live here, with my mother. It was this summer the restlessness came over me. I’ve never written anything before, not of my own free will, I suppose most people have, written letters, or even poems, but I’ve never written anything. It occurred to me, suddenly, that I might be able to write. I had to do something, the restlessness was too overwhelming. It occurred to me pretty suddenly that perhaps I should start writing, that was after the restlessness had come over me, I had to do something, had to keep the restlessness at bay. I’ve actually never thought about the possibility of writing. Not before this restlessness. It came over me again and again, the restlessness, especially in the evenings, they used to be the best part of the day, but now the evenings are so restless, so entirely restless. I had to find something to do, and so I decided to write. Perhaps writing will help, will keep the restlessness at bay. I don’t know. But this restlessness, which I can’t shake off, perhaps it’ll become more bearable if I write. Perhaps everything will become different. In any case the writing might keep the restlessness at bay for a few hours. I don’t know. Because this restlessness is unbearable, and that is why I’m writing this novel. I sit here. I am alone. I am here. It is this restlessness. I sit in the attic, in my house, and I write. I’m not feeling too bad, it was quite clever of me to think of writing a novel, I think it was, even if I have only just started to write. The restlessness is unbearable, that is why I should write. I sit here in the attic, have two rooms to myself, and I can hear my mother walking around downstairs. Through the floor I can hear the sounds of the television. My life is quite good really. I have my guitar. I have a stereo system, records. I have books. Not all that many books, but I still read a lot, although I mostly get the books I read from the library. I read a lot. I can hear my mother walking around down there. I live with my mother, although I’m more than thirty years old. My mother is not all that old. We get along quite well, really, have lived together all our lives. This summer I met Knut again. When we were kids, Knut and I were always together. I haven’t made much of my life. My mother. She is walking across the floor down there. My mother gets her pension every month, she buys food and she cooks, she pays the regular bills, electricity, telephone, she keeps the house neat and tidy, washes my clothes, grumbles most of the time. And I haven’t made much of my life. Perhaps that worries my mother, perhaps it doesn’t, it probably doesn’t worry her, she’s in the habit of saying that I have to get myself a job, I can’t sit up in the attic strumming a guitar, she says, but she grins when she says it, and I don’t know if I should believe what she says or not, besides, I do a few things now and then, or at least I used to, before the restlessness came over me and I decided not to go out anymore, while before, I used to go out and do the shopping for her, chop the firewood, all winter I would get the firewood, in the autumn I would help her pick berries, I fished all the fish we ate, and occasionally I would even earn a bit of money, I have done the odd job in my time, and, most of the money I earned came from playing at dances, which I used to do quite a lot. I play the guitar, and a teacher at the local high school plays the accordion. His name is Torkjell. That’s why we are called Torkjell’s Duo. It’s this restlessness, it just won’t go away. Now I don’t go out anymore. That means that I’m unable to maintain the rather modest income I used to earn. It also looks bad for the duo I used to be part of. I have said no to taking part in several playing jobs lately, and I don’t want to go to rehearsals either. Torkjell’s Duo. That is just how it is. Mostly we were playing at weddings, apart from the odd dance. Torkjell’s Duo. That is what it says on the posters, almost always written with a broad red marker. It’s this restlessness, and I have stopped going out. It has been a long time since I last went out. This summer I met Knut again, and I had not seen him for at least ten years, he was married now with two kids. Knut and I were always together. We played together, started a band togeth- er. Knut has become a music teacher. It was when I met Knut again that the restlessness came over me. Knut and I decided to start a rock band together. My friend Knut. He came home for a visit this summer. He and his wife and their two little girls. He has two daughters. I had not seen him for at least ten years. I watched Knut dance with someone he went to school with, they were in the same class. Knut has become a music teacher. This summer he came home. I met Knut this summer. That was when the restlessness came over me.
Excerpted from The Boathouse, by Jon Fosse, translated from the Norwegian by May-Brit Akerholt. Published by Dalkey Archive, October 2017. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.