A novel by Peter Holm Jensen
In the murky aftermath of a breakdown, a man still at odds with himself takes flight to a cottage in rural Norfolk. There he intends to strip his life of everything trivial, everything superfluous, paring it all back to the essential truths, values, and experiences. In doing so, he keeps a fragmentary journal: not a record of progress as such, but sporadic notes on his new surroundings as he attends to minor changes in search of an ideal moment — a moment of unity between body and mind, in which there is no distinction between sensation and thought. For decades he has been hounded by the sense of a split self, as if under observation by a nameless double, and he feels that the opportune moment, if it can be found, will relieve him, just briefly, of this spectral presence.
Peter Holm Jensen’s début novel is a mercurial marvel of contemplative literature that at once adopts and dismantles the diarist’s form of expression. It is not a linear account of ordinary events, but a cyclical and recursive record of noticing the ways of the world. It does not tell the story of its narrator’s life, but opens up for him a quiet space in which to savour the changes of the seasons, the migration habits of birds, his connectedness to his partner, the fluctuations of his ineptitude and capabilities. But it is also not an environmentalist’s lyrical notebook, for its author feels the pains of precarity and indignity under neoliberalism, nor is it an account of stoic persistence in the face of daily adversity and aimlessness. It is, rather, an attempt to come to terms with the indifference of the forces within which we live — time, nature, globalisation — and to extract from this void of meaning something immanent, something true.
Peter Holm Jensen grew up in Indonesia, Canada, and Denmark, and studied religion, art history and literature at King’s College London and the University of East Anglia. He lived in Norwich for twenty years, where he worked as a translator. The Moment is his first novel.
The Moment is the journal of a profound and moving endeavour: the attempt to renew a faith in life through the act of writing. Reflecting on everyday life in the Norfolk countryside as well as some of the richest literary, philosophical and theological ideas of the past couple of centuries, its narrator seeks to work through the legacy of his past by opening himself to the unknown and perhaps to the eternal. Life, Holm Jensen shows in his poised, lapidary prose, is best experienced as a gift, but one that must be received in the right way – by living and thinking beside the thought of luminaries old and new. This is a wisdom book, hushed and intimate, that will repay close contemplation.Lars Iyer, author of the Spurious trilogy, Wittgenstein Jr. and Nietzsche and the Burbs