July 22, 2011
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? is narrated by the unassuming Mattias, who is twenty-nine when the story begins. What Mattias wants to be is: “a smooth running cog in the world.” He doesn’t want to stand out it in any way, reveling in his ordinariness, deflecting all attention, just getting along — below the radar:
Mine was a simple plan: I came, I saw, I disappeared.
No conquering for him — and hence also Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, seems far more the man whose footsteps he wants to follow in than the one everyone remembers, Neil Armstrong. With Mattias born on 20 July 1969, the day of the moon landing, the astronautical connection is an obvious one for him all along.
When he starts his account Mattias is also very happy with how things are going: he loves his job as a gardener (the perfect job for him), he’s been together with his girlfriend Helle for some twelve and a half years (he does the more precise maths too: 6,564,960 minutes). Then, of course, it all comes crashing down: business is bad, so he’s let go — and Helle dumps him. Mattias does not take this well. He goes along with a friend who has a band for a gig on the remote Faroe Islands — and he winds up staying there.
Mattias falls into the right hands, those of Havstein, who looks over a sort-of half-way house where other troubled folk live. Out of the way even on the out of the way Faroe Islands, Mattias can use the time away: he finds: “I was out of order”, and this seems a decent place not to have to worry about anything and try to become a cog again.
Mattias spends quite a while there. He befriends some of those there, tries to sort himself out, builds souvenir sheep (but then turns to gardening again), worries his parents. Everyone is pretty patient with him, and slowly he figures things out — or at least comes to terms with them. Not much really happens — highpoints include him missing a plane, though there is at least one disturbing death, too — and Mattias tries to find his place in the world again — not at the fore, but comfortably in the second row.
Of course, it also turns out Mattias’ mental imbalance isn’t quite as new or sudden as it first seemed: eventually he admits: “Something serious had happened in 1983″, when he was fourteen…
Read the full review at the Complete Review.