I would say Factotum composer Kristin Asbjornsen is like a Nordic (Norwegian?) Fiona Apple.
I read the first third of his collection Sometimes You Feel So Alone… just now at B&N, which fascinated me. Here is a writing style similar to most high school kids who are just angry and don’t want to be hemmed in by all that sonnet garbage or anything, they just want to say what they want to say and hell with the rest. In every class there’s that bitterness, the poor have it, the middle-class, and I’m sure the rich kids, who are the most pitiful of all because they’re the ones who, if they have any sense of self, really have to prove themselves not to be undeserving bratty heirs. You can’t be a good writer without a bit of struggle, and you can’t go looking for struggle, because then it’s fake, and what the hell is wrong with you anyway? I’m not saying Bukowski writes like a high school student; he doesn’t. He just takes this form that poets reject because they have it so mentally interwoven with the really awful crap they wrote back in their pre-college days that the form becomes tainted. What he does is remove the self-consciousness that plagues most poets, teenagers or otherwise, and writes instead a semi-autobiographical poetry (not confessional, which is so often bullshit) of absolute candor – and its mostly commentary not emotional tear-mongering… which is good. The one problem I have (and I guess I do always have some problem or other) is the disjointed quality of his poem, that he doesn’t mind repeating himself or having a bit of unnecessary sprawl. Which is very L.A., but still. I suppose that despite the prolific amount of writing produced, a lack of craftsmanship is what makes him so popular, so “real.” It’s funny that hard living makes for such good reading (or writing, for that matter). I used to be defensive about this because I’m so clean, I squeak if you rub me the right way, but I wonder now if it’s not that modern writers exploit themselves for an “edge,” so much as people living on the edge often have no way of keeping themselves from falling off without the steady grip of a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other.
So that’s interesting.
I bought a remaindered Baudolino because I’ve never read any Eco, and I felt I should. I bought Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake for the exact same reason. I also feel I should read Malamud, not to mention a sweeping array of others. And I will. Soon. How is one supposed to manage a real job and still read the books necessary to be a complete person? I ask you…