Some years ago I started a loose conversation with Lars Gustafsson, who -since reading his first book some 25 years ago – is my secret guess for the next Nobel price in literature . It all began with some essays about Berlin, my home town, that Mr. Gustafsson wrote on his blog. Gustafsson himself lived in the city for several years in the 70s, hence he knows many places in the Western part of town much better than me, who could go there only after the “wall came down” in 1989. He wrote all 8 parts of the essay in German, and me – in complete ignorance of every writers psychology had the “brilliant idea” to slightly “improve” the grammar and syntax for him. When I send him back all the 8 parts of essay with my “improvements” (meaning that the typical Gustafsson style had now been converted to a proper East-German persian-cat style) I received a rather cold reply from him. Anyhow, secretely Mr. Gustafsson revised the essay on his blog, and considered some of my changes as reasonable. Our mail conversation did not went any further, although I regularly submitted praising comments to other posts on his blog.
Suddenly, 2 years ago I received an emergency message from Lars, calling me “My friend” and explaining that he got stucked in London, lost his wallet and now needs some money to buy a ticket home. Obviously, somebody had hacked Lars’ address book (which obviously must have contained my e-mail contact) to send out Phishing mails to all his friends. From this moment I was careful with everything Mr. Gustafsson send me.
Earlier this year, however, I received a more reliable message from him, where he announced his soon visit to Munich to read from his latest books. I immediately confirmed this event with the local Literature Club and even made some publicity for the reading (again completely ignoring the fame of Lars Gustafsson, who has such a huge list of followers and readers that all tickets were sold out in a day).
After his reading Mr. Gustafsson stayed for an hour, nipping some excellent white wine and eating some delicious dark bread sandwiches and chatting with the audience. When I finally made my way through the flock of people who always surrounded him I had the chance to talk to him in person. During the reading on this evening Gustafsson only focused on his poetry, so I told him that “… only after reading his novel Bernard Foy’s Third Castling I realized that Scandinavia can also produce decent crime stories, in considering the dreadful style of others,such as Adler-Olson, Harkan Nesser, Stieg Larsson and the like …”. Gustafsson reacted a bid with surprise, that somebody would consider Bernard Foy’s Third Castling a crime novel. He said that for him all crime literature is immoral, which I could not agree at all if I think about Raymond Chandler, E.A.Poe, Patricia Highsmith or Friedrich Duerrenmatt. In my view, all bad literature is immoral literature, be it a crime story or a naturalistic poem. And all good literature is highly moral literature, as is the case of Raymond Chandlers long list of Philip Marlowe detective stories and equally of Gustafssons “Bernard Foy”. I don’t know to which degree we found an agreement on this issue, since more people were pushing from behind to have their copies of “Everything one needs. A manual for life” (written jointly with his wife Agneta Blomqvist) decorated with his signature.
Yesterday, suddenly, 6 weeks after our last encounter, I received a funny invitation from Lars again, this time with a request to join him on his LinkedIn site. So maybe he remembered that I was once so helpful in polishing his German essays, that in the future I will really get a job from Lars. Or his ardent interest in mathematics and science made him think of starting a research job in my lab.