The themes of this article are the norms for presentation, form and mediation in local history research in Norway. A difficulty has been that local history, for example local community history, tries to ride many horses at one time. These histories have been supposed to serve several functions: as an encyclopedia, a historical tale and a scholarly, analytical function. It has not always been easy to balance these expectations, and there has been a tendency for the encyclopedic function to dominate, at cost to the others. Additionally, the text is often written with a godlike outlook, an authorial view that apparently mediates the past objectively and neutrally. Thus, an illusion of realism is created.

On the basis of my newly published book on Skedsmo’s history, I discuss whether it is possible to find a better balance between local community history’s differing functions. To meet the requirements of readability, I have made use of fictional tropes as a mediatory technique. Furthermore, I discuss how experimentation with the form of presentation can «open» the interpretations of local history. I gain particular inspiration from Bertolt Brecht and his ideal of fracturing illusion. Using these approaches, I seek to write a history book that not only imparts knowledge of the past but also gives the reader an appreciation of how history is written.