Machine by Peter Adolphsen Review

Wow. Peter Adolphsen’s Machine sounds pretty incredible. From Three Percent’s review:

Although Danish author Peter Adolphsen has made a name for himself as a formalist for whom economy is a virtue (to date his five novels and short story collections are less than 300 pages combined), “as a reader,” one reviewer writes, “you feel you have covered a huge distance with him.” Drawing comparisons to Borges and Kafka, Adolphsen has written parables and parodies, “ultrashort biographies,” children’s books, and a collection called En Million Historier (A Million Stories), which allows the reader to construct, well, a million stories, from ten pages of interchangeable two-line segments. Machine, Adolphsen’s second novel to be translated into English, fits very well within this paradigm, spanning millions of years, several continents, the lives of three people, and one drop of gasoline within its brief 85 pages.

The book opens with the untimely death of a prehistoric horse. This end, however, is really the beginning: “Death exists, but only in a practical microscopic sense,” the quirky omniscient narrator intones. “Biologically, one cannot distinguish between life and death; the transition is a continuum.” And so, ever so slowly (over fifty-five million years), the heart of this horse is transformed into a drop of crude oil. Once refined, “our drop” is pumped into the engine of a Ford Pinto. It then combusts, becomes exhaust, and a few hours later, transforms one last time into a carcinogen. And that’s Machine in a nutshell.

Add yet another book to the list.


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Thanks for the tip. Bought it from Amazon this morning.

Ever since reading the review over at ThreeP, I’ve been trying to find out what the other book mentioned as having been translated into English is, but have failed to do so through Google and Amazon. Comments are closed over there, as usual per reviews; please do give me a shout if anyone knows.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think that any other of Adolphsen’s books have been translated into english. At least, if you visit the author’s homepage http://www.peteradolphsen.dk, only Machine is listed as having an english translation. There have been translations of some of his other works into french, german and italian, if that might help?
If you want to check for yourself, the list is on the homepage, under the heading “Oversat” (meaning translated).
Good luck!

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