These three dozen stories and vignettes by the venerable Norwegian writer range from bleak to darkly comic . . . [Everything Like Before] features mainly spare prose exploring the distances and conflicts between people linked by blood, marriage, or circumstance . . . [Kjell Askildsen] is a fine craftsman who offers lighter moments amid the Nordic gloom and an unrelenting intelligence.
— Kirkus, Starred ReviewThere is something so beautifully off-kilter about these stories—a luminous peculiarity that reminds us that strange writing is the only true writing about the world.
— Daniel Handler, author of A Series of Unfortunate EventsKitchens, decks, doorways, sidewalks, restaurants, and bars are charged with significance as spaces where characters negotiate relationships and appraise their lives. Mundane objects that carry emotional weight—raincoats, hair ribbons, cups of coffee—bring the stories alive . . . In the short stories of Everything Like Before, loneliness, despair, and longing are described with devastating nuance.
— Rebecca Hussey, Foreword ReviewsI am just over the moon about Everything Like Before. An honest-to-goodness fount of suggestion and restraint, cascading omens and omissions throughout. Perennial storytelling.
— Justin Walls, Bookshop.orgUltimately, Askildsen’s stories are about the horror of the mundane, the emptiness of everyday life, and the paradox of both wanting and fearing change . . . these tales are unconcerned with plot, but rather focus on the subtleties and impossibilities of human interaction. They provide us with windows through which we, like the characters, may watch each other, may be held up for scrunity.
— The LiterateurKjell Askildsen’s dry, absurd humor is not unlike that of Beckett . . . His short stories are packed with irony, and the dialogue is sharp and expressive.
— Times Literary Supplement[A] meditation on individual freedom, a book fraught with the day-to-day pressures of human life. The nine brief stories collected within can be described in terms of absences. The absence, for example, of experimental or ornate, ‘flowery,’ prose. The absence of unnecessary characters. The absence of exotic or alien locales, or of complicated plot arcs . . . One senses that Askildsen is delicately, deliberately seeking answers to a particular set of nagging questions, and is never quite satisfied with what he uncovers
— Adam Segal, Numéro Cinq MagazineKjell Askildsen writes what might reasonably be called ghost stories in which there are no ghosts. His prose, uniformly muted and bare, seems haunted by absence . . . His landscapes are stage sets in which houses and lawns exist alone in an empty world.
— Aaron Their, The Nation[F]ull of compelling strangeness. Lives surge through a few brittle pages, suppressed loves and resentments threaten to erupt. Characters are rarely isolated but their loneliness is palpable as they steal time in the shadows. Names recur throughout the book so the reader tries to connect people with events, but it’s the loose ends which draw you back to these taut dramas.
— Max Liu, The IndependentAskildsen’s world is paradoxically both limited and limitless. Only a few things happen to his characters, everything out of ordinary life and nothing externally very dramatic. Yet within themselves, the characters are everything: they are infinitely good and bad, often at the same time; they have great tenderness for each other and are unspeakably cruel to each other too. They’re the world in a grain of sand.
— Julia Gronnevet, Asymptote