Benny and Shrimp

3 Feb

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazeti (translated from Swedish)
Short Books, 2008

Benny and ShrimpBenny was hot, smart, and had his choice of girls in the village. Then his parents died, leaving him to work the family farm alone from pre-dawn to post-dusk. His life is a shambles: when he’s not milking his cows he divides his time stressing about becoming the local old bachelor and visiting his parents’ graves in town.

Desiree used to be married. Now a widow in her late thirties, she lives an orderly life, one punctuated by her “taking the occasional lover at bedtime to keep the system ticking over”. When she’s not working at the library or reading in her quiet apartment she’s sitting by her late husband’s grave.

So far, so meet-cute. Woo, meeting in a cemetery – wacky!

But this quirky little love story is so much more than that. Desiree (aka ‘Shrimp’ – long story) and Benny are such an adorable couple – all cute in-jokes and sexy, sexy moments – but we soon discover they’re doomed by their town/country mouse ways.

Or are they? Well, maybe. They take a while to decide – after all, what they have together is bringing her closer to quietening her biological clock in the most natural way possible, while he gets the companionship and warmth he really needs. Neither is so lonely anymore, and they really do have something special.

But in spite of their persistence in trying to get past their Odd Couple ways, the whole ‘real life’ thing gets in the way…

I really liked this book. Like, a lot. I raced to find out what happened to the likable duo. I enjoyed the way the story was told – the two characters took turns narrating the chapters, and each one had such a distinctive, realistic voice. I can’t say any more (are all my reviews going to contain that line? How do other reviewers do it?!), but here’s a hint: the ending was great.

Read it to believe in falling in love again, regardless of what happens next.


2 Responses to “Benny and Shrimp”

  1. Emma February 3, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    I like the sound of this a lot. I am thinking that it’s the anti-thesis of Blue Valentine which can only be a good thing!

  2. RET February 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I haven’t read this book, but it sounds like it has a bit in common with Chekhov’s The Lady With The Dog.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Star-crossed lovers are a universal theme if ever there was one.

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