Review by Grady Harp
Kirk Kjeldsen simply has it! Having worked through the hoops of preparation – an MFA from USC and serving as an assistant professor of cinematic arts at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts – Kirk lived in Shanghai, adapted the poetry of Yarjei Vesaas into a feature film, and has a résumé that reads like an actor’s tryout for heavy movie roles. He now lives Essen,Germany with his family.
But to have all that background and then come to the literary table with a debut novel as polished as TOMORROW CITY suggests that his rightful role may be as an author or a screenwriter. Now with his second novel LAND OF HIDDEN FIRES he is becoming well established as a novelist of the first rank. His use of language is so appropriate and filtered free of extraneous clutter that the reader soon understands that to lose attention for a moment on a page will be like falling off a cliff!
Kirk’s poetic fluid style deserves an example for those new to his gifts: ‘Snow began to fall. It came down in hard, tiny bits at first that stung the skin and crackled as it hit the trees. Then, as it picked up, it softened, falling like flour from a sifter. Before long, big saucer-shaped flakes began to flutter down an fill the air, choking out the moonlight. It muffled every sound, blanketing the forest with silence.’ Eloquent, conjuring the atmosphere for his new book.
In this novel Kirk enters the era of WW II and carries his experience into the climes of the Nordic region to create a story that seems simple while reading, but that carries a relationship lesson well past the final pages. The plot is well spelled out in the intro: ‘Occupied Norway, 1943. After seeing an allied plane go down over the mountains, headstrong fifteen year-old Kari Dahlstrøm sets out to locate the wreck. She soon finds the cocky American pilot Lance Mahurin and offers to take him to Sweden, pretending she’s a member of the resistance. While her widower father Erling and the disillusioned Nazi Oberleutnant Conrad Moltke hunt them down, Kari begins to fall for Lance, dreaming of a life with him in America. Over the course of the harrowing journey, though, Kari learns hard truths about those around her as well as discovering unforeseen depths within herself.’
Fine writing this, and a fine follow up to his first novel. We can only hope that he will continue to parcel out novels during his busy life – he has the gift!
Title: LAND OF HIDDEN FIRES
Author: Kurt Kjeldsen
Publisher: Grenzland Press
Publication date; January 24, 2017