Unfun

Unfun

Scandinavian Misanthropy #3

Five years after Macht und Rebel, Matias Faldbakken returns with Unfun - Scandinavian Misanthropy III, drawing his Scandinavian Misanthropy trilogy to an explosive close through a discussion of violence and its ultimate consequence – death. Using the dramaturgy of the rape/revenge flicks of the 70s as a framework for his narrative, Faldbakken cooks up a grotesquely hilarious and challenging story about the crew around the online slasher game Deathbox, at the center of which are the “violence intellectual” Slaktus and his former girlfriend and victim Lucy, an anarchist who embodies the horror film’s Final Girl trope. Problematizing concepts of oppression, freedom, and power in different contexts, Faldbakken lets Lucy mete out revenge on her oppressors in a narrative littered with references to popular culture, which bears Faldbakken’s trademark of being at once seriously disturbing and highly entertaining.

Reviews

  • “Masterful. With Unfun, Abo Rasul – the pen name of conceptual artist Matias Faldbakken – completes one of contemporary Scandinavian literature’s most important projects. /…/ In fiction the only interesting thing is the concept, the notion; that’s where the ideas are; that’s where the potential is,” says Lucy in the novel, and one is led to believe that the conceptual artist Matias Faldbakken agrees. In any case, Unfun resembles a sketch rather than a painting. The text flickers and pulsates with ideas. Lines of argument and possible tracks swoosh past the reader at break-neck speed; some of these average, others dizzying and razor sharp. This speed – a kind of idea-based literature in its purest form – is one of Unfun’s merits. The other – paradoxical as it may seem – is the book’s focus on flesh and death. In the first two parts of the Scandinavian Misanthropy trilogy, everything boiled down to signs and cultural recognition. A particular theme was how the sign logics of the avant-garde and the sub cultures are chanceless in a media landscape controlled by the advertising and entertainment industries. This time, the focus is on the body, especially the body as an object for violence. /…/ Undoubtedly one of the book’s qualities – which appears contradictory to the reader – is that it neither softens its brutality by using humor, nor tips over into aesthetic speculation, as slasher films often tend to do. It hits full force, with an almost clinical unease. /…/ In one sense, Unfun is a book you wish you’d never read; in another it’s a book you would not want to be without. No matter what, the Scandinavian Misanthropy trilogy is a work of major importance in new Nordic literature.”

    Information, Denmark

  • “Sex, violence and drugs – no one can write about it with such force as Matias Faldbakken.”

    Vanity Fair, Germany

  • “With his new novel Unfun, Matias Faldbakken cements his role as the difficult child of Norwegian literature. /…/ Is Matias Faldbakken’s writing excellent, or is it terrible? It is a wretched question; Unfun nevertheless shows that he is capable of writing that is to the point, witty, reflective, essayistic, simple, repulsive, and entertaining at once. /…/ The high level of abstraction most likely in part explains the mixed reviews that Matias Faldbakken’s books receive. But it is beyond doubt that this is a hell of a book. Reading Unfun provokes questions such as: What do I believe in? Why? Is there anything to love or hate? What was I to do if all of this vanished? Or if it turns out never to have existed? Unfun turns around the theme of one of the most general and desperate actions, far from unknown to the above-mentioned "difficult child": struggling, kicking around. In the words of Lucy: "You can almost use it as a memento: When everything goes to hell: kick around." Reading Faldbakken can be a good way of making order in your own processes of creating meaning. Even if saying it in those words is to render harmless precisely what the book is struggling against.”

    Morgenbladet, Norway

  • “Faldbakken’s alloy of pop-culture trivia, contemporary myth and advanced philosophy is taken together a powerful creation. /…/ Matias Faldbakken has made a name for himself with the two previous books in the Scandinavian Misanthropy series, and now brings his trilogy to a close with dignity. Using a word such as "dignity" next to Faldbakken’s name seems like an oxymoron. Because there is not much dignity to speak of in a universe where the first book opens with a failed porn shoot; and the second with the main character sticking a cucumber up his ass to see whether this might counteract his feeling that everything is as meaningless as it is dull.Unfun is no better; a novel in which the Ugandan-Norwegian activist Lucy, the "violence intellectual" and computer game creator Slaktus and their hyper-active, destructive sons are the protagonists of an eccentric family drama, inspired by violent slasher games. All the same something is different this time around, in a way that makes the word "dignity" seem less alien here. /…/ Nobody writes badly on purpose as well as Faldbakken does. Although trying to grasp his work may at times feel like banging your head against the wall, there are few of his countrymen original enough to measure up to his use of the entertaining and hyperbole, in combination with the heavy thinking.”

    Dagens Næringsliv, Norway

  • Unfun is the strong finale of a trilogy that it will take a long time to fully grasp the complexity of.”

    NRK, Norway

  • “Matias Faldbakken takes decisive artistic steps in this final instalment of the Scandinavian Misanthropy Trilogy. /.../ However, the most interesting thing happens when the author turns on the principle of distance in the literary form itself, which is concept-like and aesthetisizing. Even though the book to a large extent is powered by a straightforward, fast-paced punk prose, there are also places where the distance does not hold together. In these sections, it is as though the author searches for a way to, in spite of everything, re-establish a form for holding a set of values. And more importantly: this is where melancholy shines through, and where Matias Faldbakken appears as something more than a literary conceptual artist. Namely, a real author. With massive talent and genuine originality.”

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • Unfun is powered by a violent negative energy, and gets your mind going. /…/ Faldbakken’s novels have never been, and are still not, something for delicate souls. He excels in foul language, violence, blood and general darkness: the eccentric Unfun-family is home to mothers and fathers who slay their own children, gym-obsessed "violence intellectuals" who abuse and rape, and young people devoid of emotional barriers.”

    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “Blood, massacre, rape: the new novel Unfun by the Norwegian artist and cult author rattles us with sinister, violent scenarios. /…/ During his artistic career Matias Faldbakken hasn’t avoided kicking the shins of the establishment.”

    Gerald Traufetter, Der Spiegel, Germany

  • “Master provocateur.”

    Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

  • “The writer holds up a mirror to society /…/ Disillusioned, with a penchant for the crude and with the sharpness of a scalpel, Faldbakken illustrates the downfall of society by replacing family, love and solidarity with mass consumerism, oppression and violence.”

    Katrin Starke, Der NordBerliner, Germany

  • “Cynical, in fact at times extremely unpleasant, and then once again a splendidly bizarre novel with lots of verve and rage.”

    Jan Drees, 1Live, WDR, Germany

  • “With the plot revolving around the development of an online slasher game, Faldbakken highlights a central theme in the contemporary debate on violence. And he doesn’t sneak in any inept theories of blame and guilt, but instead positions himself on the progressive extreme of the discourse regarding computer games. /…/ If you likedThe Cocka Hola Company and Macht und Rebel, you will also take this novel to heart.”

    Martin Zachauer, FM4, ORF, Germany

  • “[Unfun] mirrors our postmodern society’s perversities and its protagonists.”

    Ji-Hun Kim, De:Bug, Germany

  • “Outstanding satire about media violence.”

    Sassan Niasseri, Tip Berlin, Germany

  • “Matias Faldbakken now belongs to the most important authors of his generation. His novel is brutal and provocative.”

    BROn3Radio, Germany

  • “Faldbakken’s motley book full of dark humor is called Unfun. That’s fitting. The novel is social pornography. If it wasn’t so audaciously entertaining, one would stop reading.”

    Christian Mückl, Nürnberger Zeitung, Germany

  • “More original than Michel Houellebecq, more radical than Bret Easton Ellis, and more fun than the two of them put together. /…/ Scandinavian Misanthopy is a frightfully wonderful bouquet from the dark side.”

    Sonntags Zeitung, Switzerland

Download all reviews
Author
Photo: #{publication.artist.imageByline}Matias Faldbakken
Published
2008
Genre
  • Literary
Pages
256
Reading material

English translation

German edition

Norwegian edition

Rights sold

Germany, Heyne

Norway, Cappelen Damm

More from Matias Faldbakken

Scandinavian Misanthropy

Stand-alone