Friday, December 30, 2011

Absinthe 2011: A Few of Our Favorite Things

At Absinthe we're quite fond of our local library and are fortunate to live close enough to see it from our window, and though we advocate borrowing books there are some that definitely belong on your own book shelf at home. These are a few of our favorite books (and other things) from 2011:

Karaoke Culture by Dubravka Ugresic

Stone Upon Stone by Wieslaw Mysliwski

Coming from an Off-Key Time by Bogdan Suceava

12 Who Don't Agree by Valery Panyushkin

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky

Picture World by Niels Frank

Not much to say about cinema though we did enjoy Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and our favorite blockbuster film to absolutely avoid is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Don't waste your money!

Our favorite music video features, what else? Supermodels.

And our favorite newsletter of 2011 is the new Absinthe newsletter sent out monthly on the 15th! You can sign up right here for news about Absinthe, interesting events, book & film recommendations, and more.

We're looking forward to a great 2012 and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Absinthe #16 is out in the world: get your copy now!

Absinthe 16 is out and has been mailed to contributors and subscribers. It's not too late to get your copy ... you can order it (or subscribe) here.

And don't forget to sign up for our new monthly e-newsletter with news from Absinthe HQ, information about events of interest, book & film recommendations, and much more.

2012 promises to be a great year. A few things to look forward to:

1. Absinthe 17, our special issue on Bulgaria will be published this spring
2. The return of the Absinthe Festival of International Film & Writing
3. Our new book publishing imprint will debut with our first book scheduled for this fall. I can't say much about this now but here is a hint.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chad Post on "Karaoke Culture" by Dubravka Ugresic

I mentioned in my post about the ALTA conference that I'd share some videos interviews I conducted while there and here we are with the first one. Chad Post, from Open Letter Books, talks about one of my favorite books from 2011, Karaoke Culture by Dubravka Ugresic.

(If your browser cuts off part of the video you can watch it here too.)

Interview with Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov

The Literary Saloon brings to our attention an interview with Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov.

An excerpt:
Focus: Where should we seek salvation from the economic crisis? You said we could find it in science.

Georgi Gospodinov: Salvation lies in us understanding that the economic crisis is not solely economic and that the exhaustion of basic things, like human culture and civilisation, lies behind it. This is a crisis of civilisation, not just of economy. This is why I envisage art’s life-saving role as a machine for sense and solace. Things, that we think have long ago happened, will be happening – very simple things. We will be moving towards a new type of ecology – not just of environment, but of men, if we really want to survive.

As mentioned in a previous post, our next issue focuses on Bulgaria and just might include an interview with Gospodinov, along with an excerpt from his new novel. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2012 Sozopol Fiction Seminar, Fiction Writers Review, and Bulgarian Literature

It's time to start thinking about applying for the 2012 Sozopol Fiction Seminar, sponsored by the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, and over at Fiction Writers Review you can find a couple of reports from the 2011 participants to pique your interest: Part one and part two.

Additionally, worth checking out, is a review and interview with the Bulgarian writer Miroslav Penkov, author of the story collection East of the West.

(And a hint of things to come: Absinthe #17 is a special issue focused on Bulgaria!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nomad by Sibella Court

Though not a book in translation, Nomad, the newest book by interior designer and writer Sibella Court is a delight to read and peruse. Based on her trips to several international locations, Court's book provides tips on how to use colors, patterns, and keepsakes from travels as style ideas for one's home. Some of her many tips include how to reimagine common objects and fabrics, like old sari borders found in India, and reuse them as tablecloth runners. In another example, a trip to the Syrian desert and a glimpse of Bedouin tents inspires a secluded space in a city loft using linen strung on metal poles. As Court herself says, vacations are too few and far between, but by incorporating a few of her ideas around your home, you can find easy and simple ways to keep your journeys alive around you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Absinthe #16: Gastão Cruz

                         Mas il mio dio se ne va in bicicletta

The boys of whom Sandro Penna speaks
are already dead or old and no longer flee
on bicycles that were the image

of desire in the days of summer
with their living wheels swift spokes
moving toward the inaccessible

place where only the sullied
final breath of all summers
might reach their bodies, rare, mercurial

from Absinthe #16, translated by Alexis Levitin

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Absinthe #16: Katya Metelitsa

"Roza Abramovna herself was a little frightening: she was a good-natured, even kind woman, but extremely loud, plus she sported dark black, bushy eyebrows and a mustache. What scared me was that she had several husbands and talked about them non-stop, referring to them by number: my first husband, my second husband, my third. It was all so mysterious and fascinating."

from "Gooseberries" by Katya Metelitsa, translated by Asya Graf, in Absinthe #16

From no man's land: German literature

The 6th issue of no man's land, the magazine of new German literature in translation, is now online. Featuring a "Poetics of Sustainability" and audio and visuals from Ann Cotten's and Monika Rinck's "The Igel Flies Tonight". Plus poetry by Dieter M. Gräf (who also appeared in Absinthe #1), Christine Marendon, Monika Rinck, Peter Rühmkorf, Ulrike Almut Sandig, Daniela Seel, Jan Wagner and fiction by Zehra Cirak, Eleonore Frey, Michael Lentz, Eva Menasse, Michael Roes, Lutz Seiler and Keto von Waberer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wednesday Night Sessions: A Monthly Reading Series

If you're in the Detroit area we have a great reading scheduled for tomorrow night with David Blaine, Chris Tysh, and Keith Taylor joining us. The reading runs from 7-8pm at Mentobe Cafe in downtown Farmington. Hope to see you there!

Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus

This past weekend, I went to view the exhibit Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, which opened at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) on November 20. The exhibit brings together about 60 pieces from Rembrandt, his students, and other artists influenced by the master and includes drawings, prints, and paintings. Though it may seem to be relatively small, there's enough detail in each piece to absorb the viewer for several minutes each. Rembrandt, often known for his use of light, was innovative in his depictions of Jesus by basing them on Jewish models from his neighborhood in Amsterdam; many other artists prior to Rembrandt tended to use mainly Northern European models in their paintings. The exhibit also does a very nice job of presenting Rembrandt's work in the context of his life in Amsterdam, a culturally diverse, conservative but tolerant city. Two of the pieces not to be missed include the painting Supper at Emmaus and the very detailed and outstanding print Christ Healing the Sick (also known as The Hundred Guilder Print). Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, which is organized by the DIA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Musée du Louvre, will be on display until February 12, 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Absinthe #16: Gonca Özmen

Keep It For Me

Keep the statue of your feet for me
Keep that shy bloom in your vase for me

I was there in the tedium of a blank page
Desolate houses on my face

O wherever I look I see a nature unkempt
If I were to pass right through you
It’s my grief that slows my passage

Keep for me this wounded consciousness
Of mortality

I’m the time for birds to migrate
The evil of a snake you raise

O great peace of the unknown

Wind brought fear
Placed it like this between us

Bring silence to an end, and begin again

by Gonca Özmen, translated by George Messo, from Absinthe #16

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ALTA Conference in Kansas City

A few weeks ago Jessica, Logan, and I packed the car up and drove 13 hours from Detroit down to Kansas City to attend the conference of the American Literary Translators Association. This is definitely my favorite conference and it was great to see some of our old friends and to meet new ones too.

While at the conference I recorded a few brief videos with several of the attendees and will be sharing them on this blog over the course of the next few weeks.

Usually when I go to the ALTA conference the highlight for me is attending the bilingual readings organized by Alexis Levitin, and this year was no different. My favorite session was the Germanic languages reading, particularly Emily Banwell's translation of a novel excerpt by Rayk Wieland and Roger Greenwald's hilarious reading of his translation of poems by Niels Frank. I would definitely recommend picking up Roger's translation from Book Thug.

An odd moment occurred when Open Letter Books publisher Chad Post and I were grabbing an early coffee before one of the sessions ended. A group of electricians (from another conference) walked by the coffee and treats table and, after noticing a sign mentioning that the snacks were for the ALTA conference, one man said "literary translators" in a disdainful tone one might use when referring to a group of people as "assholes!"

Not sure what that was all about.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Absinthe #16: Ilse Kilic

Whether or not you would have wanted to read this piece for an event such as the “Night of Bad Texts” is another question altogether.  Rather not, you say, for, what kind of reason could there possibly be to read a text aloud that you find bad, for you would no doubt be inclined to say with a wink of an eye that it's actually good, the text, namely either bad in a good way, or good in a bad way.

from "Mo", a story by Ilse Kilic in Absinthe#16

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Absinthe #16: Line-Maria Lang

"It wasn’t me.  It was mostly the chicken.  The chicken was always pushing.  The rabbit was the one who went along with the worst; right up until it had second thoughts.  It was the one who ruined everything sometimes.  But it was the cow who exposed us.  It was the cow who just couldn’t keep its mouth shut, who was the schemer, who gossiped about me to the others and about the others to me.  The ape was the humorous one, the one who could always get me laughing afterwards.  The horse was my friend.  They sat on my right hand.  The chicken on my thumb, the rabbit on my index finger, the cow on my middle finger, the ape on my ring finger, and the horse upon my pinky."

from "The Chicken, the Rabbit, the Cow, the Ape, and the Horse" by Line-Maria Lang in Absinthe #16.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Absinthe #16: Jesper Wung-Sung

They had buried Mort the Wart in the yard.
          Of course, they had not actually buried Mort the Wart in the yard. Not all of Mort the Wart, for his head was sticking up out of the lawn. It had been necessary, though, to gag him. To put a stop to his yelling. The cries. The screams.

from "Close Only Counts When You're Doing Your Damnedest" by Jesper Wung-Sung.

Read the entire story in Absinthe #16.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Acid Washed and Anthony Burrill

For those of you in the greater metro Detroit area, you may have heard that after two years, Cranbrook Art Museum reopened this weekend. As part of the opening series of events, the museum brought in the British graphic artist Anthony Burrill and the French electro band Acid Washed to present a lecture and concert. Burrill, maybe most recently known for his screen prints using oil from the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, discussed his work in graphic art, video, and installation. Burrill had a video piece soundtracked by Acid Washed in dialogue with a Frank Stella piece from Cranbrook's permanent collection featured in the new exhibit No Object is an Island. Burrill has worked in collaboration with the band on artwork for album covers and providing background visuals for their live shows. After Burrill's lecture, Acid Washed performed their music, a mix of Detroit techno, electro, acid house, disco, and ambient sounds. If you do not already know either of these artists, I encourage you to check them out.

To see Burrill's work, please visit his website:
To hear some of Acid Washed's music listen below and look for their new album in Spring 2012:

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Be sure to sign up for our new monthly e-newsletter with updates on what's new with Absinthe, events of interest, recommendations of European books, music, films you might have missed, and more. The first edition goes live this week. Sign up at our facebook page ( by clicking the "sign up" tab on the left, or at our blog, Absinthe Minded (

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finlandia Prize Finalists Announced

They have announced the six finalists for the Finlandia Prize for Literature. The winner will be announced on December 1. The winner will receive a 30,000 euro prize.

The six writers include previous winners and debut novelists: Laila Hirvisaari, Rosa Liksom, Kristina Carlson, Eeva-Kaarina Aronen, Laura Gustafsson, and Jenni Linturi.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Order Absinthe #16 NOW

The new issue features great poetry and prose from Abdelkader Benali, Gastao Cruz, Hans Durrer,  Niels Hav, Line-Maria Lang, Katya Metelitsa, Gonca Ozmen, Chris Tysh, Michael Stein, and Jesper Wung-Sung, along with our book & music recommendations. In addition, art by Pedro Matos appears on the cover and in an 8-page portfolio.

Order here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Popescu Prize for Poetry in Translation

The UK Poetry Society has announced their shortlist for the 2011 Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation, six titles decided on by judges Sasha Dugdale and Jane Draycott. An interesting mix of less familiar languages - Romanian, Swedish, Turkish and two titles translated from Dutch!

The Popescu Prize is awarded by the Poetry Society in collaboration with the Ratiu Foundation every two years for the best volume of poetry translated into English from a European language.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New generation of European filmmakers at Fresh Film Fest in Prague

European film buffs know all about the festivals in Cannes, Venice and Berlin – even Karlovy Vary has become a familiar name on the festival trail. But for those looking for the new and next generation of European and world filmmakers it’s worth taking a look at the Fresh Film Fest which kicks off on August 24 in Prague. The festival focuses on directors’ first and second features, as well as having competitions and programs devoted to student film and animation.

Unlike the major festivals, where a retrospective is likely to be devoted to a renowned, internationally-celebrated figure the Fresh Film Fest is doing a retrospective of up-and-coming Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf (b. 1974), whose fourth feature “Womb” just premiered this month.

For more on the festival read this preview article and I hope to have time to see some of the films and will provide updates shortly.

Photo (Fresh Film Fest) – A scene from “Transfer,” by Croatian-born German director Damir Lukačević – a sci-fi story of an older, rich white couple that pay to transfer their consciousnesses into the bodies of two young healthy African immigrants.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Absinthe Recommends: Rahu (would you like some Finnish Black Metal today?)

Our music reviewer, Jeff Sumner, recommends some Finnish Black Metal for your edification:

Rahu compiles two previously issued demos from Finnish Black Metal duo Rahu. Opener “Amrit” is a catchy instrumental that could be appreciated by more conservative metal heads. “Into Nothingness Drawn” features the trademark BM demon vocals and guitar blur, and is epic in its gloominess. There’s something about the repetitiveness of the riffs that feels like a mantra of sorts (particularly on “On Ketu’s Trail”), fitting given the group’s interest in Hindu mythology. Fans of the darker end of psychedelia and space rock will find much to appreciate here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Absinthe Recommends: The Book of Things by Aleš Šteger

One of our book reviewers, Anne Marie Sumner, recommends Aleš Šteger's The Book of Things.

The Book of Things by the Slovenian poet Aleš Šteger (translated by Brian Henry) is a poetry collection about the quotidian, those ordinary items one never stops to consider in much detail: shoes, doormats, walls, stones, etc.  Šteger, in devoting a collection entirely to objects, forces a reconsideration of broader topics by focusing attention on what is small. For example, in the poem “Paper Clip,” Šteger uses the spiral imprint of a paper clip on paper as a metaphor to turn one’s view “the way inward.”  It is this focus on the common in the poems, in the way Šteger writes as if from the perspective of an item, that invites reflection and a deeper, more thoughtful examination of the surrounding world. 

The Book of Things is published by BOA Editions and won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award in poetry.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reading Romania

Last year we published a special Romanian edition of Absinthe and this year sees two more anthologies of Romanian writing, along with a newly published novel by Gabriela Adamesteanu.

New Europe Writers recently published Bucharest Tales, featuring poetry and prose by over 30 writers, including Mircea Cartarescu, Bogdan Suceava, Dan Lungu, Saviana Stanescu, Flavia Cosma, and Stelian Tanase.

Of Gentle Wolves, an anthology of Romanian poetry, published by Calypso Editions, presents a bilingual collection from 14 poets, edited and translated by Martin Woodside.                                  

Wasted Morning, by Gabriela Adamesteanu and translated by Patrick Camiller, is published by Northwestern University Press and "presents a sweeping vision of the personal and collective costs of a turbulent century."

The publication of these works (along with Absinthe #13) provides a great opportunity to read many of Romania's excellent writers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

European film collection goes online

A number of major collections of European cinema have banded together to create an online portal offering films, film photos and posters as well as documentation from the history of film. The European Film Gateway (EFG), launched on July 26th and to be completed by September, makes it possible to watch everything from turn of the 20th century documentary footage to early films of Rossellini and Antonioni online.

Additional material includes censorship documents, filmmakers’ correspondence and the 280 books contained in the digital library of La Cinémathèque française. A lot of technical bugs need to be worked out and many of the links don’t work yet, but EFG is already a formidable resource to delve into the past century and more of European cinema.

For more on the project click here …

Photo – Rainer Werner Fassbinder on the set of “The Merchant of Four Seasons” (1971) – Source: Deutsches Filminstitut / Collection Peter Gauhe

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Interview with Writer Ulf Peter Hallberg, part 2

The final post in our series on Ulf Peter Hallberg and European Trash presents the second part of our video interview with Hallberg, along with a concluding excerpt from the book. I asked Hallberg if he ever imagined a conversation with his father about the book European Trash.

An excerpt from European Trash (2009):

In the evening at Eli’s in Prague when we had finished our discussion with her about art, my father expressed his thanks in a short speech with references to Eli and their common belief in Art and the importance of Prague to the citizens of Malmo. My father had a way of rising to the occasion when it came to something really important.
   After that, when we went to the bedroom with the large double bed made of oak and the old fashioned radio on the table by the window where you could look out over the roof tops in the Old City of Prague, my father could unwrap the day’s finds. He immediately sat down on the corner of the bed and took out one object after another from his canvas bag. Then he spread out books, lithographs, photographs, small statuettes, and other curiosities onto the bed—all purchased on his tight budget—which in other people’s eyes were next to worthless. As he raised each item up in his hands, he would turn my way and, with boyish excitement, describe that European Trash:
  “A Hrabal original, a little shabby, with spots here and there, but what a beautiful volume it is, and look at this lithograph! Do you see how the artist was able to catch those emotions in the facial expressions? And look here: the greatest find of all!”
   He inspected the watercolor minutely.
   “This must be by an unknown artist who was a contemporary with Nemes.  He uses the same color scheme. Do you see the similarities? You must look carefully, Peter. It looks like a human figure on its way to eternity.”
   His hands were shaking as he uttered his incantations.
   “This is totally priceless!”
   My father stretched out that European Trash towards me, in a persuasive gesture reminiscent of a person praying, with the same arms that used to hug me so often when I was a boy. I could see that he was happy. And so I believed his every word.

Translated by Erland G. Anderson

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Interview with Erland Anderson on Translating Ulf Peter Hallberg

The third post in our series on Ulf Peter Hallberg and European Trash presents a video interview with Erland Anderson discussing the importance of Hallberg’s work, followed by another excerpt from European Trash.

An excerpt from European Trash (2009):

I visited Prague together with my father right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We stayed with Eli Solakova, who, inside her stove, burned old worn-out shoes she had found in the street. She was always waiting for my father and me in the kitchen when we returned from the antiquary and thrift stores.  Eli told us about her life, while my father listened, wide-eyed, there in that kitchen in Prague. She didn’t hesitate to tell all the worst tales that I knew backwards and forwards from all my visits, but I naturally wanted my father to find out about those times.
   Eli turned to him and said:
   “Now listen here: then my Dad took Werner’s daughter as his mistress! Can you imagine? She was thirty-five and he was fifty. I was supposed to keep an eye out at the entrance to the mistress’s place. I called home and said: ‘Mommy, I don’t see anything, and I’m freezing to death.’ That’s what you have to do, isn’t that right, Peter? Aren’t I right?  I am right. Mommy just said:  ‘Stay where you are!’ Then she arrives in a taxi with two girl friends, and they pushed their way into the inn. It caused a big uproar.”
   After a pause, she turned to me.
   “Does your Dad understand?”
   I heard him mumble, “I understand.”
   But I noticed that he wasn’t getting it at all, and that he had trouble grasping those East European experiences. This calm, timid man, who loved his wife above all others in the world, sat in Eli Solakova’s kitchen  and nodded as if he understood when she said:
    “When I saw my first husband walking around in the garden, poking about, like the lazy dog he was, I had a sudden urge to put a bomb right under him. I wanted to blow him apart. You understand, don’t you? Aren’t I right? Yes, I am always right, aren’t I, Peter?”
    Eli is the closest I’ve come to finding someone like Fasse, my aunt, after her death in 1988.  Eli had been sitting there in the kitchen, with her sewing machine on the kitchen table and her bed in one corner next to the oven, following those crucial changes in my life. And now she was meeting my father at last.
    He turned to Eli as if he were replying to her descriptions from marriage Hell, and said:
    “Now you listen to me. You have had one of the greatest artists in the world living here in Prague, Endre Nemes, and for many years I had a watercolor, ‘The Machine Man,’ by him on my wall at home in Malmo. Nemes came from Hungary but lived in Prague during the 1930’s, and I shall tell you, Eli, that for me it is a great honor to sit here in your kitchen in this city of high culture, as if I were visiting Nemes and talking with his friend Jakub Bauernfreund. There’s something very odd about Time. You know that.”
    “Bauerfreund! He must have been a relative of my cousins! And about Time being strange, that is something deeply ingrained into little old me. My God, all that political crap going on.”
    “It’s so corrupt!”
    “Corrupt? It’s bankrupt. I didn’t believe in National Socialism, I didn’t believe in Socialism, and I don’t even believe in Capitalism!  If we can’t find a solution soon, I think humanity is doomed. Everyone just thinks about himself. Aren’t I right, Peter?  I am right.”
    “You must have faith in art, Eli!” my father said.
     “Then explain why.”
   My father managed to convince Eli that she was part of a cultural milieu that was indestructible. We were sitting a stone’s throw away from Karl’s Bridge, and my father was talking about Endre Nemes’ painting, “Prague Pieta.”

Translated by Erland G. Anderson

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview with Ulf Peter Hallberg, part 1

Watch part 1 of our interview with Swedish writer Ulf Peter Hallberg and read an excerpt from European Trash below:

An excerpt from Hallberg’s European Trash (2009):
I open the door and walk into my father’s empty apartment. Already in the hall I get the feeling that he is still in the kitchen making coffee, quickly turning around to look in my direction. In that unfamiliar silence, visions and memories are released: how he walked toward me with that gleam in his eye, how he pronounced my name, how he inspected me to check my level of fatigue. It’s been a lifelong relationship from childhood to adulthood, the naturalness of his slow movements, my impatience and joy. All that is overshadowed now by irretrievable silence and total darkness.  All paintings and objects speak to me of him, of his sense of order, of his tender dedication as a collector. I know everything will soon be scattered about, but his objects are still resisting; they are still attached to him, even though he vanished and left them in the apartment. I stand by the rarely-used fireplace, which once smoked up the room so badly right next to his priceless Endre Nemes watercolor, which he sold against his will because we needed the money to a teacher at the Mellanhed School, who really didn’t appreciate it enough. That four-edged Human Machine set my imagination working because it didn’t look like anything I’d seen before. My father’s directorial hands made sure that Beauty had a place in our home in a miniature exhibit of everything created, like a mirror image of a grander scheme.  That way he could love the universe and give it its own meaning.  My glance meets the writing desk he always sat at. In front of that large oak desk, he held vigils long into the night, stooped over his books and clippings. He always had classical music playing directly from the radio, or from cassette tapes in frightfully bad condition, which he got off the P1 radio station’s classical recordings, filling two closets. And these things helped him rally his energy during the twelve years following my mother’s death.

   His place in front of his desk had become the axis my world revolved around; his glance had filled my life with meaning. His black notebooks lay there on the desk stacked neatly together as if ready for mailing, some with beautiful elastic bands wrapped around certain important pages. I still don’t dare to touch them, even though he often picked one up and read to me. One of the books is open right in the middle of a note. A foreign word translated: “Erato= the Muse of Love.” I know that he jotted down his own and others’ thoughts without bothering to differentiate whose they were. Everything became immersed in his grand scheme, the collection that was his life’s energy, and unusual defense against the world’s entropy. Night after night he was making notes, his threadlike handwriting going from one context to another, from one commentary to another fancy, from one fact into larger fictions. That was his encyclopedia—the words he had made his own, the energy he had mustered against the void.  I peer at random inside one of the books: “Birds who are larger than wind itself don’t know where to rest their wings.” The words pull me toward him. I still feel his breath, though I just closed his eyes. I keep turning the pages, quickly and nervously: “The novel is usually the combination of two absolutes—absolute individuality and absolute universality.” I am alone with his gift. There is no real message, just an obvious stack of notebooks, a scribbled pad from the Local Swedish Agrarian Society in Hoerby with the birth and death dates of my grandparents, Victor Hallberg 1885-1951, Hertha Hallberg 1890-1971, as well as a pink-dotted notebook with foreign words and a catalog of all the paintings stored in the kitchen cabinets. My glance falls on a note that, unusually enough, has been attributed to its source, Romans 8:20 “All creatures subject to emptiness.”  The first words in the pink-dotted notebook are “redundance= superfluous, excess information (which can be eliminated without any loss).”
                                                                         Translated by Erland G. Anderson