He once began as an eloquent young man with very little to say. What people liked then and still like with his novels is hard to say. But even if his admirers normally are no bookworms, they seems able to chew his thick books from cover to cover. Maybe people (men in the same age as he!) see themselves in his prolonged outsider position and in his wordy and unstructured novels? My impression is that he writes thick books all about himself and everything small he doesn’t like? Is it so? I actually don’t know if so is. He’s one (of many others famous writers) I’ve never succeeded to read all trough. (Do I try? Yes, one and again!) But having read his novels or not, every (native) person in our common little country knows who he is, as he is also a successful poet and a songwriting rock legend.
He has his fans, that sort of people who choose to worship a specific artist and do it for decades and ages with him and strongly feel the absolute need to visit his concerts whenever he’s on tour. Every artist likes to be appreciated and wants to earn money from their hard work, but for pop and rock artists there is an obvious risk some in their audience can go over the edge in their admiration. He has said once about this phenomena: “I think that’s very scary. We have a relationship, yes – but for me it is divided by a stage edge.” Private, he’s a loner and fears mingling and he doesn’t say much but say uncensored what he thinks and once with an ironic glint of a smile in his eye he called himself “a social disaster”.
I can’t quite remember how and why he first came into my mind some weeks ago. But he did and he stayed. I guess it can be I’m a native Swede and we now live “the Swedish summer”. It’s wonderful, sure – but it’s never easy. A Swedish summer is much more than “a summer” – i.e. for us native Swedes. The summer here fills our chests with romantic bursting dreams of life and love and freedom. It’s something urgently forcing with these longing dreamy undertones whistling in our hearts – and this writer has forever become a part of these undertones through his writing and songs. Like a bumblebee, he’s buzzing from the bottom of our frozen souls and testifies there’s honey there, us to benefit.
Decades has passed since his successful novel debut. Yet he seems to be the same guy as ever and all what has changed is that he has become old and wrinkled and grey. And more male grumpy than before. Though these experiences of aging are (of course) all thoroughly told, latest in another many pages book with diary reflections. This latest book finally giving him praise even from literate females. (He has (had?) a bad habit to rude criticize well-known women being writers and journalists in his novels. As he has named them, it has often give him hate in return from (especially feminist) women in different tabloids. But what else could he expect?)
No editor at the publisher house seems to be allowed to edit his verbose prose works. That’s odd, really. It seems to me it’s in his poetry and lyrics he succeeds to find his stringency and precision, making good literature. As it’s not easy, he’s worth all the credit given for it. And despite his ambiguous attitude towards women (?), he is above all a poet writing love songs – praises The Woman and finding freedom in nature, especially the sea. And he also clearly distancing himself from society as it is governed today. It’s finally his songs and poems that have made even his hardest critics to understand and admit he actually can write good poetry!
He’s a well-known writer in Scandinavia but few of his books are translated to other languages and those few which are, only into Danish, Finnish and Norwegian. Why? He’s not the only wordy writer in the world, hard to translate. Is this yet another negligent duty of his publisher?
42 years career behind him and he has gone from a young unkempt rebel with a constant hangover and never deserted dreams of fame, who faltered around in life with self-doubts, porn magazines, wine bottles and anxiety in some torn plastic grocery bag, to now being a grumpy old millionaire with a fat bank account, a Viagra recipe and a rich man’s country house not far from the sea – just like he wanted it to become. A success story and not a common guy, after all. He just looks like one.
No, he does not look like an intellectual or a rich man. But more like an aged truck driver, shabby and tired as caught in a snapshot when he slow and stiff leaves a road cafe after a short break during the ride, on his way home for a good shower and long sleep in a clean bed. The fact he with age has become a well-read and well-educated man he prefer not to show up, neither in speech nor in writing. Even so, he’s still that boy pointing the finger saying the emperor is naked, the tailors are scammers. And it’s hell wrong!
At 68, his girlfriends are still never older than 23 (or something) and they are all well shaped and good looking and having artistic dreams of a future fame between their thighs. (A famous old man with a bad reputation and a thick wallet is an accepted stepping stone for a smart young woman, or what? Young women should truly know better, because youth is no protection against acidic old wine.) Either way, the women come and go in his life, but still he is always alone in his nice and comfortable beach house, as ever before.
He’s a novelist, a poet, a songwriter and a touring rock star – and as if that would not be enough, at old age he has begun to paint. And he sell his paintings on exhibitions for staggering sums! Although some stuff seems to be painted by his pet chimpanzee (of what I can see from those shown on net images). Just terrible stuff! But he doesn’t care a shit what the critics writes about what he do. He earns a lot of money and he say he never care to read reviews.
Regardless highbrow critics, he is loved by his audience, the common people. To them he’s the average man, like themselves. And all the years in his past lost on addiction to alcohol and drugs would have put him on the street if he not had been carried by common people’s – his audience – devotion, and their money spent on consuming him, of course.
Not that he would ever admit such a connection, certainly not! He despise devoted admiration and if any fans shows any tendency to develop to groupies he just pause the singing during a performance and roughly ask them to “fuck off”, simply leave the concert. (Making a scandal in papers again!) Yes, but he’s loved anyway like this sort of unpolished men often becomes, no one really knows why! Maybe we confuse bad behavior with authenticity? Yes, I think he got an air of authenticity around his being! And I actually believe he is just that, an authentic human!
Grumpy and uncomfortable yet tied to his country, that’s him. (That’s a Swede!) But it’s not a new state of one man’s mind: the country has already a national poet who wrote about this (especially Swedish) discomfort:
Jag är en främling i detta land
men detta land är ingen främling i mig!
Jag är inte hemma i detta land
men detta land beter sig som hemma i mig!
I’m a stranger in this country
but this country is not a stranger in me!
I’m not at home in this country
but this country acts as it is at home in me!
(Gunnar Ekelöf 1907 – 1968, the first verse of a poem called Non Serviam in a collection with the same name, from 1945)
He’s a public person and everyone’s property. Yet he’s a shy and introvert man, living alone in the silence of the countryside afar! He’s nevertheless generous and pretty much friendly in talking about what’s private with journalists. All those countless interviews during the years! It’s all in the game of course, a need to earn his money as being both the product and the seller of his skill. He’s telling about the miserable limitations of a lonely life. Quite satisfied yet with his life.
He is still at age 68 an eloquent man with not much to say, but he writes it far and wide in his prose. In his songs and poetry he occasionally succeeds to do it very well. Catches the core of the Swedish soul.