Doppler | Erlend Loe

  • Doppler © 2012
  • Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
  • Anansi
  • 183 pages

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to give up on modern life and move into a tent in the woods? Erlend Loe explores that idea in Doppler.

The book appealed to me on a number of levels. I love the wilderness and the solitude it offers. I’m also concerned with the various trappings of modern culture and was attracted by the promise of a “deeply subversive and … strong criticism of modern consumer culture” (back cover).

First, the good: Loe is a gifted writer who develops Doppler’s character with simplicity and humour. The pages of this short novel flip by effortlessly. By the end, I felt like I really understood the man as well as his acquaintances.

The problem is this: I don’t like Doppler. I don’t like the path he’s chosen. I don’t like his attitude towards his wife, his children, or the people who seem (inexplicably) drawn to him. Here’s his philosophy of life in a nutshell:

I don’t like people.

I don’t like what they do. I don’t like what they are. I don’t like what they say. (27)

It’s telling that Doppler’s only friend (if you can call it that) is an orphaned Moose. Doppler is a selfish man, a selfishness that Loe tries to mask as self-discovery.

This book does subvert modern consumer culture, but it merely trades consumerism for isolationism.

If you say that you don’t like people, you will eventually have to face the fact that you’re a person. Perhaps that’s addressed in the sequel.

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