Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Kingdom of Norway

A short story by Bryan Hurt
Reviewed by Max A. Gordon
Setting: Interior of a VW Rabbit, nighttime
Protagonist: An unemployed college graduate, recently fired for marijuana use
Narrator: 1st person - Nathan
Tense: Present
Coming of age can be a difficult transition. The three characters in this story are plumb in the midst of that transition, but at different stages on the journey. Matty, the most advanced, has nearly made it to adulthood (he actually has a steady job), but is reluctant to leave his adolescence behind completely. Nathan, his roommate, and our narrator, still hasn’t honestly engaged the struggle to transform himself, despite the consequences he faces for his refusal. Helen, their mutual love interest, has rejected the role of adult - despite having graduated from college - and is ‘touring’ the American continents, with no concrete plans for the future.
Like their mythical destination, a bar named “The Kingdom of Norway,” the comfort of permanent adolescence can never be attained. Helen knows of the bar’s existence from the ‘friend of a friend,’ and off they go in pursuit of it. It is the Never Land of Peter Pan, the place that can only be imagined and sought after in daydreams, the place where only the ‘in crowd’ has been (an adolescent desire, if ever there was one), the place that conveys the status of with-it-ness.
The growing intimacy between Matty and Helen leaves Nathan vulnerable and alone, and recalls to him the frustrations he faced in childhood. But it is these memories that must be recalled, mourned, and accepted, in order for him to move toward a future that recognizes and endorses the non-existence of such places as “The Kingdom of Norway,” even if regretfully.
At ~3300 words, this story is carefully written (with only one small copy-editing oversight [see if you can spot it… near the 20th paragraph]). It focuses on the conflict between adulthood and adolescence, and uses any number of issues to address that conflict. A short read, worth repeating several times, the inkwell is full.

ePublisher: 42opus  2 May, 2009  Vol. 9, No. 1
Their website states: 42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts. Although archived in quarterly issues, new writing is posted online every few days. The newest material is listed below. If this is your first visit to 42opus, you may wish to learn more about us.

Format: I read this story online, using html format.


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