Posts Tagged ‘Dorthe Nors’

‘Mirror, Shoulder, Signal’ by Dorthe Nors – An Amusing Drive through Copenhagen


‘Mirror, Shoulder, Signal’ by Dorthe Nors  (2016) – 188 pages   Translated from the Danish  by Misha Hoekstra

Don’t expect any thrilling or suspenseful plot in ‘Mirror, Shoulder, Signal’, because there isn’t any.  The novel is pleasantly inconsequential, and that is a good thing.

It is mostly the viewpoints and reminiscences of a single Danish woman in her forties named Sonya as she goes about her daily life. She had a boyfriend who left for “a twenty-something girl who still wore French braids”, so she lives alone now and that is just fine with her.  Nothing spectacular or even very noteworthy takes place in this story. It is her deadpan way of looking at things that makes the scenes humorous. This is a novel that goes its way on its attitude.

Sonya is learning to drive a car (thus the name of the novel), and her driving instructor is a forceful woman named Jytte who tends to often get hysterical and does not trust Sonya to switch gears.  Jytte does all the gear switching with her remote device, and Sonya never will learn to switch gears from Jytte. So Sonya asks to change driving instructors behind Jytte’s back, and is assigned a man named Folke.  The only problem with Folke is that she fears this married man has wandering hands.

I just want to learn how to drive, okay? I don’t want to have my hand held, I don’t want to be massaged, hugged, or interrogated, to be hit on or coochie-cooed.  I want to learn how to drive that car so I can drive over there.”

‘Mirror, Shoulder, Signal’ contains many hilarious scenes of Sonya interacting with the people around her.

Sonya translates the crime novels of Swedish crime writer Gösta Svensson for her living, and she jokes about all his gory victims.

 “These days what she knows most about is how to cast bodies in ditches, the deep woods, lime pits, landfills.  Mutilated women and children lying and rotting everywhere on Scandinavian public land.”

 Although Sonya now lives in the metropolis of Copenhagen, she often remembers her childhood in Jutland on the farm.  She has frequent flashbacks to her rural childhood, her farm family and the whooper swans and the large herds of deer.  She writes a too-honest letter which she never does send to her sister Kate who still lives there.

‘Mirror, Shoulder, Signal’ is light and amiable and amusing, a pleasant interlude from all the more vexing problems of today.


Grade:    B+ 


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