Whether she wrote poetry, prose, blog posts or articles were Bodil Malmsten always crisp and sharp, precise and personalized. Her voice was both own and headstrong, and moved freely between seriousness and nonsense, always with a view to curbing the dark.
“I do not want to abandon the reading with a situation where there is no light,” explained Bodil Malmsten me , the cardamom buns at home in her apartment at Mariatorget in Stockholm. It was a fundamental principle she had in her writing: not to increase the darkness of the world.
It was a mild September day just over three years ago, and it could have been like any interview whatsoever – besides Bodil Malmsten could never be “anyone” – if it were not for that I found myself in a position in life where the points of light seemed to get. It simply was not very much “hi and ho,” which Malmsten himself would have put it. But then and there, in the bright little apartment where the September sun streamed in through the windows, it became obvious already when I stepped over the threshold, there was a state of exception. A glade in the dark forest, a glimpse of the intensity and concentration, which closed the rest of the world out there for a few hours. It’s the kind of gift that man, even though the giver is unaware of it, carries with it then.
“My books must be born out of my innate darkness,” writes Bodil Malmsten “How do I do. The Art of Writing “(2012) – the book that was the reason we were met and therefore is me extra heart – and it is in the stress field of her literature often are. Life has its inevitable darkness of sickness, death, heartache and worry, but the writer has a responsibility to the reading; providing an aperture, a new option. As a kind, it is Malmsten’s own choice of words, spell.
The textbook (it’s hard to put labels on Malmstens matter) “So do I,” can at first, superficial glance stand out in her writing. But really follow it in a trail that passed through a long series of her works, with the partial exception of poetry and pure novels like “When the chestnuts bloom, I am far from here” (1994) and “Next concerning Me” (1996) . The track is about reading and writing. Bodil Malmsten writes about writing, about the agonies and drunkenness (though most of the travails of one should be frank). The entire “The price of water in Finistère” (2001) is really about the book’s creation.
Which books in a writing that will appeal to a reader’s completely individual. “The author has no guarantees of how it is read,” which Malmsten found. For my own part, the latter part of Bodil Malmsten authorship been crucial, precisely because writing tribulations are at the center there. This applies first and foremost “There is still no order in my paper” (2003) – sequel to “There is no order in my paper” of 1991 – but also books from Finistère, logbooks, autobiography “My first life” from 2004 ( which by the way is not at all someone’s autobiography but a storybook, according to the author). And, not to forget, the writings that have been online in the form of blog finistere.se and, more recently, Malmsten Twitter account. Where Bodil Malmsten published their texts – between book covers, in newspaper columns or on the web – have been fairly insignificant. Her accuracy with language, her litt rarity and exaggerated self-will, has not made a difference between high and low in this respect.
Bodil Malmsten has always been something of a literary trinkets. Even before his debut with the poetry collection “The dwarf Gustaf” (1977), she wrote causeries in Aftonbladet and Femina, and the picture book “Ludvig go” along with former cohabitant and illustrator Peter Csihas. She was a poet, novelist, short story writer, playwright and essayist. She wrote log books, blog, did radio shows and revues, she translated and she tweeted. Leaving aside that writing never occurred unhindered for her – she firmly dismissed all authors who claim that it is wonderful to write like liars or simply not good enough – so she moved effortlessly between genres. Bodil Malmsten hated genre divisions, it inculcated she was there at the kitchen table in Södermalm, something that becomes even clearer now that it is time to tie up the sack her writing.
“I’m not so easy to categorize, but how do I turn it becomes a book on me “, she explained. Ego was an inevitability for Malmsten, who felt that literature was not worth shit if it was not personal, and completely uninteresting if it was private. But that self in her books, the ever present, should not be mistaken for “man Bodil Malmsten”: she acknowledged the inevitable subjectivity, but hardly anyone confessors. As soon as it was written, it was fiction, the private self is not found in the text. Not that it would necessarily be wrong to write as a private self, but because it is simply impossible: “To the ego in the book does not coincide with the one who writes it applies, not least, in the books where the character is called I am. “
When someone dies, it belongs to that person is perceived as particularly original and indispensable, it comes to Bodil Malmsten too. But the fact is that it is difficult to compare her with anyone, to round her with something else loose thread on the literary map. She had a completely private, idiosyncratic voice. Yes, I can hear her scoff at the hard drive in such a statement, but I will not be around it. She was a solitary, cosmopolitan fixed star in the Jämtland heaven, or vice versa if you want it. And everything was up to how it was done, it was crucial for all she wrote – this how . Bodil Malmsten was consistently a mold writer, but the form was for her not to be difficult, but on the contrary always understood by those who read. That if something is taking shape seriously.
This is also why you can pick a Malmsten book out of the heaps, and be sure that every time you open a page accidentally on a formulation that is well balanced, pregnant, sharp sharpened. I open the logbook “Those from the north coming leopards” (2009) at random: “Suddenly one day the neighbor is allergic to trees.” There is a sense in the crowd, seemingly banal, yet so characteristic malmstensk; the dramatic element, everyday humor and the simple, precise phrasing.
Yes, reading, writing and levandet was always deadly serious in Bodil Malmsten authorship. And those who take such a serious real, also recognize the value of nonsense. The Malmsten was a humorous, witty writer, there is no doubt – this is particularly noticeable in her politically colored texts always had a satirical sting – but nonsense force had its own, special place. As a symbol of this is “The Family Tapes,” a bargain in an office supply purge that then appeared both on the blog and in the logbooks. These tape rolls Malmsten assigned personalities, problems and diagnoses, which she founded in life, for no apparent reason at all than to make comments about our time in tramsets form, a reminder of nonsense as a survival strategy. In October last year, tweeted Malmsten about this: “What I noticed during the 71 years that I have noticed something that little nonsense has never killed anyone, someone may have been revived for all we know” and further: “I would wipe out the slightest sign nonsense, how bad it is, I would never stop crying. It is self-preservation, I fiddling. “
stylist Bodil Malmsten was sharp and pregnant, yes. Social comments – the wrath of the dismantled welfare – as well. But there was no absolute assertiveness, there was constant hesitation and shilly-shallying and wondering. It was the shape that that which was sharp conviction, she gave ambiguity clarity. “You have to try to get a form on it,” she said when I asked about the most important in the writing process. There was a concrete question shop floor, but also an urgent desire; a drive to make the world brighter and more understandable by giving it its proper linguistic form. The structure life largely lacking, with one exception: “Everyone dies in the end anyway, or else life had no form.”
The last book came to be about it; about death and grief. Poetry book “This is the heart”, which came last year, became Malmsten’s return to poetry, putting a kind of shape to the writing, which began with the debut collection of poems “The dwarf Gustaf” nearly forty years earlier. “This is the heart” is a slim volume, which stilistiken tightened even more, down to the bare despair exclamation, with verses like “My man is dead / I want to be dead,” “Love is / I want you there” and “You will never answer / when I call your name.” There is sorrow in its most hard-boiled form, so implacable and brutal. Left Malmsten really no opening, no new choices, the readers here? It is doubtful, perhaps it was too late for such considerations, this time.
“We who live / Is just kill on vacation” it says in the poem “A puff of Aunt Lillie”. I walk in the snow in Saturday night and take a puff or two of Bodil Malmsten. “I love snow” writes Malmsten in one of his books, I do not remember any of it is apparently no order in my papers, either, but she writes that she wants to go there where there is snow. I go there in the dark, in a silent world, embedded in the soft, sound-absorbing snow, thinking that now she can not travel to the snow again. Maybe it was just lying still, that about the snow, it was still a diktjag who longed to be there. Where the real, private Bodil Malmsten yearned we do not know, and now took her vacation ended, amid the dead of winter. But: she did not leave us without an opening – a brightening our waiting around the corner.
Therese Eriksson is a literary critic in Svenska Dagbladet.