Hmm...I think that if I gave this book to the reluctant readers I used to work with, after five minutes they would have thrown it across the room in frustration. This story really plays with unreliable narration. It forces the reader to wonder how is it possible for Benjamin to know all of this. What’s truth and what’s fiction? Even though this is a retrospective story, Benjamin’s narration constantly shifts perspective, describing events from other points of view—events he couldn’t possibly have witnessed—with the older Benjamin peaking in at various points, incorporating little notes and comments.
If I approached this book when I was younger, I don’t think I would have liked it, instead preferring my safe, relatively uncomplicated 19th century stories. Josefson’s novel has a post-modern feel, and reminded me of The French Lieutenant’s Woman
...how John Fowles as narrator would pop in various intervals saying hello. This is typically not the kind of literary genre I enjoy reading. I generally like texts that read straight through, stories that really allow the reader to focus in on various subtle connections within the text—how complex themes and language connect with and enhance character development. Don’t misunderstand me. That’s Not a Feeling
is an novel that certainly does this as well, however, it forces the reader to work in order to find all of the little nuances that are hidden in and among the words. Thus, I think this is one of those works that fairs better when read again.
That said, somehow Josefson’s book appealed to my sense of humor. I do like misfit characters, and this book is chock full of them—from the adults to the children. Everything described is a topsy-turvy mess, a mess that doesn’t seem to want to be resolved or even get better. In that sense, this is a very bleak, almost creepy read. Yet given the fact that this is a retrospective text, there is an underlying sense of survival. Overall, I feel that Josefson penned an interesting book.