Benny & Shrimp
Penguin, Jul 2009, $14.00
In northern Sweden, librarian Desiree the “Shrimp” is adjusting to becoming a widow while Benny the dairy farmer works his family land. Neither realizes how lonely they are until they unexpectedly meet at a cemetery where Benny is visiting his late mom and Desiree her recently deceased spouse. Each is reticent but attracted to the other.
They hit it off as each finds a need fulfilled with the other. However, soon after the first euphoria wears off, Benny prefers cows while Desiree devours books. Desiree detests his dilapidated farm while Benny loathes her indifference towards housekeeping. However, as their social diversity proves wider than the Baltic Sea, they both fear loneliness and rationalize the sex is great; but at night alone each ponders is that all there is?
The story line rotates perspective between two lonely thirtyish people who find a precarious relationship that is anchored on sex as they share little else in common. Both characters are fully developed so that the audience can see what motivates them and especially what turns them off; ironically their significant other fails to comprehend what makes them shut down. Well written, the plot makes a strong case for compatibility as opposites may attract but cannot remain cohesive. Although the ending is forced and feels unrelated to what has happened between the librarian and the farmer, fans will enjoy Katarina Mazetti’s answer to the Beatles’ question of Where do all the lonely people go? (Eleanor Rigby).