theladylovesbooks starred Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors, published by Pushkin House

Karate Chop

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pushkin Press has created a pretty unique book. Start at one end to read a collection of 15 short stories: Karate Chop. Flip the book over to begin from the other end and you start reading a strange but gripping short story: Minna Needs Rehearsal Space.

Either way, you’re in for a treat. Nors has a fresh, brave voice and her stories shine a light on the darker side of human nature. In Minna Needs Rehearsal Space the eponymous character is a musician struggling to manage her emotions following the painful breakup of a romantic relationship.

At first, I found the story’s style frustrating. The stream of short sentences – for the most part beginning with “Minna needs”, “Minna feels” or “Minna wants” – seemed irritating and simplistic. After a few pages, however, I was sucked in. By stripping back the narrative text Nors creates an incredibly direct and forceful short story.

Stick with her, it’s worth it.

On the other end of this dual publication are the short stories that seem designed for the minute attention spans of the digital age – the longest is nine pages. Almost every story has a strong visceral feel to it. From the opening tale “Do You Know Jussi” about a young girl’s sexual encounter, to “The Heron”, a grim reflection on Frederiksberg Gardens, Nors highlights the grittier, and often overlooked, side of life.

In a novel, it might be too heavy, but explored through these snappy short stories, it works well.

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