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The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven, by Nathaniel Ian Miller

Sven Ormson lives in the beautiful, wild, Northern reaches of Stockholm.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. 

According to the jacket, “Nathaniel Ian Miller, who holds an MFA in Creative Writing and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, is a former resident in the Arctic Circle Expeditionary Program. He lives with his family on a farm in central Vermont. This is his first novel.”

“I expended the greater part of my life in Spitsbergen, an island archipelago due north of Norway whose uppermost reaches are but a handful of degrees from the invisible Pole. These days the place is called Svalbard by politicians, generals, and cartographers. Or, by all but the most precious few, it is called nothing. For the age of exploration is long over, and if Spitsbergen still dwells in the popular imagination, it exists only as a faint echo, a half-remembered word” (Prologue).

The story begins, “I was born Sven Ormson, in Stockholm, of course. My father worked in a tannery, a profession for which I held very little respect until I began to toil with skins myself. My mother took care of me and my two sisters. There is nothing remarkable about this time of my life. I could hardly have been the only one who found the city stifling—the stench, the incessant noise, the human interaction. Because my family had little to spare, my sisters and I took on mill jobs as soon as we were able. I was never, shall we say, complacent about any of it. [ ] And yet I wasn’t one of those young men who believed they are destined for greatness” (5).

Time passes, “I believe we were all more than a little surprised when I went off and did the thing. It happened very quickly. Within a week I had signed a contract. Within a month, I was gone. At the station, the farewells were brief. Olga never wavered. She held me by the shoulders and looked long into my face as though exacting as oath. Arvid shook my hand, followed resolutely by Wilmer. Helga would not meet my eyes. She kept her back turned clutching Olga’s dress, until the very last moment, when the conductor announced the impending departure” (21).

A difficult departure for a young man who must surmount numerous obstacles. The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven, by Nathaniel Ian Miller, is a tense and interesting story. 5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!