Friday, March 06, 2009

Here Comes a-ha’s Biggest Fan!

Here Comes a-ha’s Biggest Fan!

The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow Touches Down in Boston/Chicago

Boston - Yes, here comes a-ha’s biggest fan – or at least, that’s how Hobo Highbrow, the main character of Pål H. Christiansen's novel The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow, sees himself.

People from as many as 24 countries have already ordered their copies of the English edition of this light and entertaining novel first published in Norwegian in 2002. The book is finally available to readers in the Boston and Chicago areas through several local bookstores*. It is far from necessary to be an a-ha fan to be captivated by the endearing Thurber-like character of Hobo Highbrow.

Hobo, a newspaper copywriter who writes on the side and dreams of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, believes he is the only one able to fully understand the three band members of a-ha (particularly Paul Waaktaar-Savoy), who hit the top of the U.S. and many other countries’ music charts back in 1985 with their unforgettable hit Take On Me. On his way to revealing his inner self to the genius he believes Paul Waaktaar-Savoy to be, the struggling writer Hobo loses his job, almost loses his girlfriend, and most definitely loses his grip on reality!

The real Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, who today lives in New York with wife Lauren (formerly of Boston) and their son, Auggie, says he enjoyed reading this “funny and charming” book, and even stands by Hobo, saying, “I’m like that, too” when it comes to being obsessed with someone. “I can latch onto people for their energy or inspiration to get me going. And it works a lot of times, too. There’s rarely a time when I’m not obsessed about some amazing musician, painter, or writer, and then I have to know every little thing about them and see if it somehow relates to me.”

The author, Pål H. Christiansen, also has Norwegian-American roots, as his grandmother, Margaret Nannestad, was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois.

Several American book-bloggers have already enjoyed reading The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow. In his review, Michael Lundin of Bent Bindings Book Blog says: “And sometimes characters you love to read about might not necessarily be people you’d like to hang out with . . .. Throughout this book, Hobo Highbrow reminded me of Ignatius J. Reilly from John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.”

German magazine Der Spiegel wrote of the German edition published in 2007: “Pål H. Christiansen has created a wonderful, grumpy hero - a tedious but friendly chap. Christiansen contemplates with empathy how difficult it can be to find one’s place in this big, wide world while the character you are carrying around inside of you is taking up all of your attention.”

When published in Norway in 2002, Drømmer om storhet received considerable attention from the reviewing press. The British translator and writer Jon Buscall did the English translation and gave the book the new title of The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow, which refers to a-ha’s second album of 1986, Scoundrel Days. (Text: schwindt-pr, Ingerid White)
*Bookstores with The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow in stock:
Schoenhof’s Foreign Books, 76A Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 / Harvard Book Store, 256 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 / Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140 / Out of the Blue Gallery, 106 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 / Trident Booksellers & Café, 338 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115 / Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 02446 / New England Mobile Book Fair, 82-84 Needham Street, Newton Highlands, MA 02461 / Back Pages Books, 289 Moody Street, Waltham, MA 02453 / Europa Books, 832 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60610

A printable jpg file of the book cover can be downloaded for free use from the author’s virtual press center at

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:53 AM

    Thanks, Doug!

    If you've ever found yourself overly enamoured of someone you admire to the detriment of pursuing your own goals, you will recognize yourself in the pages of this book. But you won't feel too badly, as the main character, Hobo Highbrow, is treated by the author with his own personal brand of quirky humor, humanity and respect - something lacking in too many of our authors today, who all too often grovel in the obscene, the absurd, and the violent in order to capture and hold our attention. It was refreshing for me to read a book written with some understanding of and sympathy for the weaknesses of our human natures. Just because we make mistakes doesn't necessarily have to mean we are led down the path to personal oblivion. Hobo Highbrow is able to find his footing back to his relatively pre-obsessive life by means of his good friends and a woman who loves him. We should all be so lucky!