This excerpt packs a lot of complexity, more than might be immediately apparent. Though Stefan is seven years old, his ability to read out anyone’s life from their mind by simply being near them combined with his prodigious capability, makes for some interesting problems. For one thing, though he is a child with the emotional needs of a child such as security, he also can experience the adult emotional experiences he has imbibed. His father, who interpreted the world for him, has died, causing a psychotic break and his mother, who he feels is emotionally cold, can no longer be avoided as she is his primary care giver now. He aspires to love the unreachable fourteen year old Tova, but his attempt at a romantic relationship almost feels like he is going through the motions based on the experiences imbibed. It’s difficult to tell his real motivations, whether he might actually be looking for a replacement mother that cares or as stated elsewhere, perhaps he wishes to experience parental love by somehow becoming a parent himself and becoming the loving parent he wishes he had. Add to this that Stefan is schizophrenic and can also draw people into his mind to experience his dreams as reality, and some interesting, twisting complexity is revealed.
Tova also has some complexity of her own as she is also a genius trying to come to grips with what her femininity means in relation to that genius. She has tremendous empathy, yet it seems sometimes that science, especially life science, her major talent, requires the opposite. The reader is kept guessing whether her personality might be spit by such a divergence (which is what the professor believes) or if she does indeed, somehow, share part of her mind with the incongruous, ruthless life-form, the Sun God, Lifegiver. Or perhaps Lifegiver has somehow left a message in her mind, a very long message. As this point, Tova is very disturbed by her own problems and yet, she is being encouraged to accept the relationship Stefan is offering, at least temporarily, to allow Professor Kettil more latitude in treating Stefan’s mental disorders. It almost appears as if Professor Kettil is not as altruistic as he seems but has some agenda of his own.
I should point out that this emotional complexity is the very air that Literary Fiction breathes. You could not explore these kinds of relationships of the human condition in a traditional Genre Fiction novel setting. The story must have a kind of transcendence to bring the emotions and psyche of the characters into stark relief. The Genre Fiction reader would dismiss the novel as being overly complex whereas the Literary Fiction reader would relish in the twisted complexity of the relationships between the characters and between the minds and instincts of the characters versus reality.