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June 2007

Those Cool Scandinavians

This month we chill out with our Midsummer festival of literature from Scandinavia. See you at the Solstice.

How Is One to Hang Up?
It should be well known that the voices can be piercing, but they also have inside curves I can't negotiate They run rings around me, I can't take them I grow smaller and rounder at the edges…
Translated from Norwegian
Let the Small Words Come to Me
Let the small words come to me Don't let the demanding ones stop them If I get everything I have a right to, but not love, then I get too little Praised be the children I will never have enough of…
Translated from Norwegian
Far from Here
I want to send a dream far from here. The swallows fly high there. Perhaps your wheat ripens and through the yellow oceans of rye a slow humming sound of bread can be heard. This is a world of water and…
Translated from Swedish
Twenty-two Things Not to Be Trusted
Twenty-two things not to be trusted: not night-old ice, not a winter in Skåne with the ice shining and as yet untrodden to a confidence inspiring terra firma. Not winter in Skåne, not spring…
Translated from Swedish
The Bonsai’s Boast
I, you mindless fools, am a pint-sized giant. Time passes me by, distance can't touch me, my breast is pure coral. All I need is water and thirst to decode the book of life. True greatness is in detail.…
Translated from Spanish
Spying on You
Well, I want you, at last, with no more shackles. On the table, I stroke the shields of silence I once wore. I break a rule (now, don't tell), spy on you and am amused (don't say it), to see you…
Translated from Spanish
By Raquel Garzón
To kiss youat the foot of every streetlampon every cornerof every cityin every languagewith kisses of melon, orange and rainand light of noon in my gazeas if nothing but mistletoeran in our blood . .…
Translated from Spanish by Louise B. Popkin
The Northwest Express
to my wife and to Blaise Cendrars even in our sleep there are cables between us. we are coupled to each other like the railway cars on their way to the sea outside the window Holland a white van on a…
Translated from Swedish
By Tomas Tranströmer
Waking up is a jump, a skydive from the dream.
Translated from Swedish by Rika Lesser
from As You Were Saying
By Marie Darrieussecq & Rick Moody
The collection As You Were Saying: American Writers Respond to Their French Counterparts presents stories begun by French writers and then responded to by their American opposite numbers. Here Marie Darrieussecq…
Translated from French by Esther Allen
from “Out Stealing Horses”
By Per Petterson
We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and one of the first days of July.…
Translated from Norwegian by Anne Born
Heart’s Desire
By Willy Kyrklund
Eliza 812 is a psychiatric computer. All female psychiatric computers are named Eliza, in accordance with a fine old tradition. All males are named Higgins.Eliza is a research project, and her main objective…
Translated from Swedish by Paul Norlén
It Could be Grass
By Helle Helle
So now we’ve begun packing. I’ve carried empty cardboard boxes home from the supermarket. Erik would rather throw everything into black trash bags. To me that’s being sloppy. There is…
Translated from Danish by Mark Kline
By Matti Yrjänä Joensuu
A faint sound emerged from the night; or maybe it was an almost imperceptible smell that drifted out of the darkness, soothing somehow, like the smell that comes off of boats and wet wooden docks, and…
Translated from Finnish by Lola Rogers
By Johan Harstad
I'm lying on my back in the ambulance, firmly strapped to the stretcher and we're driving very fast through town, somebody's placed an oxygen mask over my mouth, and the man sitting next to…
Translated from Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin & Erik Skuggevik
The Raffle Ticket
By Jonas Karlsson
The moment Patrik Ohlsson unfolded the raffle ticket and saw the number for the first time, he noticed the intriguing ambiguity.“Come and look at this, Linn,” he shouted to his daughter. Linn…
Translated from Swedish by Laurie Thompson
The Bergkvist Sisters
By Levi Henriksen
I’ve had a lot of time lately, and I’ve been thinking about the King and Queen. They were Crown Prince and Princess then, of course, but what if they hadn’t had a son second time around?…
Translated from Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin & Erik Skuggevik
from Framed
By Tonino Benacquista
Thirty-five paintings, practically all the same: indescribable black scribblings on a black background. Obsessive, sick.The day they arrived at the gallery I unpacked them one by one, going faster and…
Translated from French by Adriana Hunter