Review: The Sorrow Vaporizer

Louise Kringelbach: Sorgforstøveren (Lindhardt og Ringhof, 2008)

I recently read this book by a new Danish author and it made a huge impression on me. I really loved the idea that when you have a great sorrow, it shows itself as an animal; an animal that can change over time as your sorrow changes. I must admit that my love for this book may be slightly effected by the fact that I lost my father about a month prior to reading this book and therefore probably was in the right mindset for reading and enjoying this – although I guess it could have gone the other way completely as well. Suffice to say, I really liked it and recommend it and I’m reposting this review from Goodreads here in the hope that more people will hear about this book and maybe improve it’s chances of getting published internationally.

The Sorrow Vaporizer. Review by Christina Stind Rosendahl.
The premise of this book was so promising that I just had to read it, even though I don’t read a lot of novels by Danish authors – and then mostly read books that are very popular, by well-known authors or that people are talking about. This one is a first novel by a young female author and although it has gotten great reviews, it isn’t one of the big books of it’s year – which is actually a shame.
The book has it’s flaws – basically it’s just a story about a man suffering a huge blow and then trying to come to terms with it and figuring out what’s important in life. But the great thing of it all is that he works as a ‘sorrow vaporizer’, he helps people deals with their sorrow. Now the really brilliant thing about this book is that people’s sorrow sometimes manifest itself as an animal and then our main protagonist, Thor Moslav, helps people deal with their animals.
When the book starts, a man is killed by his sorrow animal. This animal is a huge elephant that has been vaporized to a baby elephant. Now this elephant is young and playful – and therefore not quite trustworthy. The death is ruled as an accident but still Thor Moslav is blaimed for the death and becomes the subject of a lot of harsh critique in the medias. This causes him to loose some of his patients and for the first time, he starts to question his work and his abilities.
The story itself is nothing special but the idea of the sorrow animals are amazing and the various patients with their animals are so great. How the animals sometimes hurt the people but at other times they become an important part of people’s lives, in fact count as pets or even more than that. I really like the idea of this. I wish that sorrow did manifest itself like that – would be nice having something tangible to deal with, something that over time would become a huge positive thing in your life. What is especially great about this idea is, that sorrows work this way. They hurt people in various ways – feels like a great burden sitting on your chest, preventing you from breathing for instance – just like a gigantic bird would feel it it was sitting there. Sorrows are changed over time – like an enormous elephant being changed to a baby elephant as the sorrows grows lighter and like sorrow gets more unpredictable over time. But over time most sorrows get more manageable – like a great big wolf turned into a terrier.
This was a very easy and light read and because of this whole idea, very enjoyable. I hope that it gets translated so more people can enjoy this small book.

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