Book Review: Naive. Super by Erlend Loe

Naïve. Super by Erlend Loe – Canongate Books

Title: Naive. Super

Author: Erlend Loe

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Number of Pages: 208

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes

Naive. Super is a strange little novel that took some time to win me over, but I ultimately enjoyed its combination of philosophical discussion and whimsy. The main character is a twenty-five-year-old who’s having an existential crisis. He’s obsessed with the concept of time and the meaning (or lack thereof) of his life.

He’s obviously a smart guy but his narrative voice has an innocence and lack of sophistication that makes him seem more like an eight-year-old than a twenty-five-year-old. He rides his bike, throws a ball around, and plays with a toy hammer-and-nails set to help deal with his mounting anxiety.

He also befriends a five-year-old boy and the kid’s parents find out he’s been approaching their son and randomly invite him to babysit him for several days (in what universe?) The main character (his name isn’t revealed until the very end of the book) reminded me a little bit of Christopher John Francis Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and this book is actually slightly more impactful if you see him as having high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.

He’s full of questions and finds the world hard to deal with, and I can totally relate to that. I’ve never actually seen Seinfeld (I know, what rock have I lived under the last twenty-seven years?) but like Seinfeld purports to be, Naive, Super is in some ways a book about nothing. The protagonist loves making lists (I also love making lists, which may or may not be an aspie trait) and he gets his friends and family to make them too.

The book is full of randomness and follows its own rambling plot structure. It’s a little off-putting at first but gradually begins to have its own charm. Anybody who suffers from anxiety or or gets stressed out about the meaning of it all (whether or not they’re as eccentric and privileged as this character) should have something to relate to in this book.

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