Memoirs of an Immigrant Review
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Olof Eriksen was born in Norway in 1936. He had a terrible childhood. At the end of World War II, he was abandoned by his mother and raised by his alcoholic father until he was taken away and placed in a boys’ home in Norway, where he was bullied, brutalized, and sexually assaulted. After bouncing around Norway and Sweden, he immigrated to the United States in 1956. He then began his own business, made a lot of money, built a nice house, and bought a Rolls Royce.

A true rags-to-riches tale, to be sure. I just wish I could find something positive to say about it.

Under the guise of a memoir, Eriksen uses his book as an opportunity to air his arrogance and his rage. He often directs his ire to specific people: his mother, his brothers, his employers, and a boy named Fritz, a bully from the boys’ home (whom Erikson threatens to kill on several occasions throughout the book’s 560 pages).

When he isn’t castigating someone or something, Eriksen is issuing belligerent, in-your-face challenges to his readers: “You don’t believe me?” or “Unless you have lived my life, you will not understand.” I was turned off by his constant reiterations, which he began with “I repeat,” as if I didn’t get it the first time.

It seems as though Eriksen believes that everybody’s out to get him. Everybody’s trying to rip him off. Everyone else is to blame. No job was ever good enough, and he was under-appreciated by incompetent and/or jealous employers. So he started up his own business, where he continued to get screwed over by competitors. Yet he managed to make a lot of money, attributing his success to “fate" or a divine hand guiding him. Well, it certainly couldn’t have been his personality.

Eriksen fails to provide details where we might want them, and he gives us too many details where we don’t need them. For example, he mentions how his son was given a transfusion and the last rites at birth, but he provides no further information about what happened to the son or why. Yet he goes into excruciating detail about the making of a screw or machine part. More than once, he also chronicles how many times he cheated death—not through wartime injuries or other heroics, but by surviving an accident or disease.

While part of me thinks I should be kind—after all, Mr. Eriksen is an elderly man who had a hard life—my conscience tells me otherwise. I can’t recommend this book because there’s just no excuse. Memoirs of an Immigrant is the disorganized, repetitive, poorly-written ranting of an angry man. It’s rife with spelling errors and misused words, and at the very least, he should have had it proofread.

I found no inspiration here. Don’t waste your money.

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