I received this book from work shortly after it was published in 2010, and I can’t believe I waited until this summer to read it. Christopher Meades weaves a unique and interesting tale with Henrik Nordmark and his quest to become “interesting”. The first draft of Henrik Nordmark was shortlisted for the 2007 International 3-Day Novel Contest—which means that Meades wrote the entire novel over Labour Day weekend.
With the 3-Day Novel contest, only the first place winner is published, so Meades (as he explains on his website) reworked the manuscript over the following year, “doubled its length and had excerpts of it published in literary print journals. Then I submitted it to ECW Press, fingers crossed, and in April 2009 they accepted my novel. My editor and I reworked it again during 2009/2010” and it was finally published in September of 2010.
Henrik Nordmark is a bald, middle-aged security guard with few friends and no romantic possibilities. Tired of being the weed sprouting out of the wallflower, generic in his generality, Henrik has an epiphany. He will have one moment of inimitable distinction, even if it kills him.
Henrik first sets out to experience the throes of addiction, then to become virtuous, and barring this to be known as a public menace. Inevitably he resolves to find true love and fails miserably. Along his journey, Henrik inadvertently becomes the target of a team of elderly assassins — one blind, one deaf, and the other mute.
Henrik’s counterpart is Roland, a young office worker who, thinking he has won the lottery, dumps his girlfriend and casts aside his friends. He addresses an email to the company where he works: “Dear Heartless Bastards ” Soon Roland’s entire world — the fictional one he’d built up in his mind — comes crashing down to painful reality.
Henrik’s and Roland’s lives intertwine with that of a young couple, the aptly named Bonnie and Clyde, two formerly star-crossed lovers who have grown to loathe each other. Bonnie and Clyde now have homicidal intent in their hearts, but do they have the cleverness or proficiency to pull off their respective crimes?
The characters lives all come together in a crescendo in which Henrik realizes his true purpose on earth.
From the publisher, ECW Press
I took The Three Fates of Henrik Nordmark on vacation (one week at a cabin on a small island) and it was great to be able to read quickly. There are a lot of intertwining plot lines and if I’d taken any longer than 2-3 days I probably would have lost track. Because Henrik Nordmark is a short(er) novel, reading it in 2-3 days is completely do-able.
At times I was wondering how the various threads would all come together, and it felt directionless, but the characters really popped and made me continue reading. I was particularly intrigued by Bonnie and Clyde, and could have easily seen a novella or short story revolving around them.
The Three Fates of Henrik Nordmark was quirky, witty; a great quick, light read. It would be perfect for the cabin, a short vacation, or a long weekend and is accessible for many ages and interests.