The Highbrow archives: The Origin of Hobo
“The funniest debut novel I can remember to have read ever,” the Norwegian critic and essayist Henning Hagerup wrote in his review of “Harry var ikke ved sine fulle fem” way back in 1989. Hobo Highbrow from “Drømmer om storhet” (2002), appeared as one of several main characters in this book.
Looking back to the end of the 1980-ties it’s hard to imagine that Hobo Highbrow, the protagonist of “Drømmer om storhet” (The scoundrel days of Hobo Highbrow), started out being just a name appearing in a piece of short prose that developed into my first novel «Harry var ikke ved sine fulle fem».
The novel was published in 1989 with Gyldendal Norsk Forlag. At this time I was living in Risør, a small town on the south coast of Norway, and I can still remember the moment the editor at Gyldendal, Oddvar Aurstad, called from Oslo and said that my manuscript was accepted.
Some of the shorte prose from the manuscript had already been published in the litery magazine Vagant the year before, and some more were accepted by Lars Saabye Christensen to be published in the antology Signaler later in 1989.
The first draft of this manuscript, at that point a collection of short prose where all characters had names starting with an H, was handed over to the publisher the year before. And since they liked my writing, they wanted me to develop the manuscript.
My response to this was to incorporate the collection of short prose into a kind of post modernistic, chinese box type of novel. This novel was a play with genres and writing styles and identities that tranformed. It started out as a detective novel where the detective is searching for the author of a short prose collection called “Harry var ikke ved sine fulle fem”.
The author’s name is Hobo Highbrow, a not so succesful writer, who in the final pages is trying to deliver his manuscript at his publisher, before he ends up before an apartment building, the same building he is moving from in “Drømmer om storhet”.
The cover illustration of “Harry var ikke ved sine fulle fem” is a painting by Nicolas de Stäel, the favourite painter of the writer. The painting belongs to Henie Onstad Art Museum, Høvikodden.