My Men

My Men

The following is from Victoria Kielland's My Men . Kielland's first book, the 2013 short collection I lyngen (In the Heather) was shortlisted for the Tarjei Vesaas debutant prize. In 2016, Kielland's first Dammyr (Marsh Pond) was shortlisted for the Youth Critics' Prize and the committee of the Norwegian Authors' Union awarded her the Norwegian Booksellers' primary writer's scholarship. My Men is her breakthrough novel, published to rave reviews in Norway in 2021. City of Angels, California, 1915 Tongues of flame flickered in the fireplace, hot and silent. Belle needed a window to rest her cheek on, to cool her skin, glowing red, fresh as dew, calm and hot. These little mustache hairs, she ran her fingers over her lips and heard her murmuring lungs. She lit a cigarette and looked out at the city. The enormous oak tree in the evening sun reached its long, gnarled roots along the wall and into the ground; the roots coiled around the fence, crept out under the grass. Clotheslines ran between the branches, sheets and panties flapping gently in the wind. There are things I can't ever admit, she whispered, things that are too big, too much , she could hardly breathe, that could destroy me. The words grabbed her by the throat, Belle didn't know when it was all going to snap, but she knew it would. A bullet, an inverted lung, a postscript to a thousand wars, tears ran down her face, there're too many of you . She felt her stomach turn, in the darkness, one muscle after the other. The evening sun was low in the sky, her upper lip had chapped and split right down the middle, she took a deep drag of the cigarette; little words, almost a little scream, filled her mouth between the smoke and the teeth, tickling her gums, forcing their way out between her slack lips, no one who loves with their whole self can survive it . The waves of the Pacific rolled restlessly up onto the shore, the dark shimmer shone up toward her, and her […]

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