“The Stormwater Drains in Canberra” by Paul Johan Karlsen— Friendship and Loneliness

the stormwater drains

Karlsen, Paul Johan. “The Stormwater Drains in Canberra”, Krutt & Plutt Press, 2015.

Friendship and Loneliness

Amos Lassen

Kurt Larsen, a Norwegian teen, is in a hurry to face his sexual coming-of-age. In secret, he opens a post office box and poses as an adult so that he can take out ads in porn magazines as part of his plan to meet puberty head-on. His story is one of friendship as well as of loneliness.The novel is written as the story of Larsen who looks back at his life between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one.

Kurt Larsen lives in the small Norwegian town of Bodø, north of the Arctic Circle, where there is little privacy. His are large and go far beyond the constraints of his town; he wants to find a perfect place in the world where everyone lives in a state of bliss. Looking back at his life, he says that he wanted to investigate the secret thoughts of my peers and wanted adventure, “to be a sex pioneer.” This begins with his placing ads for anonymous hookups with strange men. That was how he met Johnny and continues an affair with him that is on-again, off-again relationship throughout the book. At college Kurt describes himself as “thin-skinned, over-interpretative, horny type—a roaming satyr” and it was at college where the scope of his mission broadens and he begins a fast-paced international flying agenda to qualify for an incredible airline giveaway that will provide him with five free tickets to anywhere in the world.

In Oslo, one of his stopovers, he meets Ragnar, a young man “on top of my list of candidates for sexual perfection,” to whom the entire narrative is addressed. He loses his heart to Ragnar and tells him that second chances at their kind of happiness don’t come along often. I get the idea that deep down inside, Kurt wants to be a guy like every one else but the reality of his life is that he rebels “against a young man’s hunger for experience and fear of stagnation”. Author Paul tells Kurt’s story with poignancy making Kurt’s adventures something of a life quest. The novel is both frank and funny as it explores desire.

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