Sunday, June 20

When Linda Boström Knausgård stopped being a character and took the floor | Culture

The writer and poet Linda Boström.
The writer and poet Linda Boström.Jasmin Storch / Gatopardo Ediciones

From Stockholm, in a well-lit and uncluttered room, she speaks English with a strong Scandinavian accent, dressed in black, which contrasts with her whitish skin and gray eyes. Linda Boström Knausgård (Stockholm, 48 years old) has something of a character taken from an Ingmar Bergman film, with restrained intensity and a fragility charged with strength. But, although she is the daughter of an actress, the saga for which she indirectly rose to fame a decade ago was not cinematographic but literary.

Poet and writer, she became a fundamental character in the series of self-fiction novels that her now ex-husband and father of her four children wrote. In one of the most talked about and disseminated literary companies of the last decade, Karl Ove Knausgård told, among other intimacies, how he met Linda in a writers’ residence and was taken away, giving birth and raising their children, their fights, how discovered the alcoholism of his wife’s mother, and even the brutal nervous breakdown that led this writer to be hospitalized and undergo electroshock therapy. “They are the books of another person who makes fiction with their memories,” he says. “What I found strange was seeing how he saw things.”

If in those famous books by her then husband, Boström was somehow silent when interpreted and related by him, now that the author has rewritten silence curiously occupies a central place in Welcome to america (Gatopardo in Spanish Y The Hours in Catalan), it even has a powerful dramatic charge that turns the story around. This is the first of two novels that he has edited in recent years – the translation of October, a more biographical book will arrive early next year. “I turned to poetry in the nineties, but I had already published a collection of short stories. This is my fourth book ”, he says. “I was scared to write and I was not so sure that I wanted to do it, but the first sentence came to me, I filled a couple of pages and saw how it changed my own memories of my family. It is easy to write, but difficult to find and put together the book, because you have to have an angle ”.

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The protagonist and narrator of Welcome to america She is a teenager named Ellen who, like the author, is the daughter of an actress; After the death of his father, a man drunk and separated from his mother, has decided to stop talking to the despair of the whole family. The inner torrent of the young woman’s thoughts, her rage and guilt, the hypersensitivity narrated from within, is what occupies the short novel. “Ellen stopping speaking gave me immense freedom to examine my own voice. I took some things from my life, like the apartment where he lives, which is where I grew up, a huge old arcade next to the park, “he says. “That someone does not speak does not mean that their mind is not full of words and descriptions. Ellen’s silence calls into question the power structures of that house, calls into question the authority of her mother and brother by refusing to communicate with them.

Seeing her mother in the theater, the young narrator tries to find some peace, to discover other faces in her, but that does not soften the tense family relationship and the pain that is at the heart of the book. Are you concerned or have you been concerned that what she and her ex-husband have written affects their children? “For children, their world is the world. Seeing how my mother could be evil on stage fascinated me, and also feeling how a whole group of people work together on the same thing. It was a gift for which I paid a price, ”he recalls. “My children read a lot, but they are not so interested in what we do.”

Boström adds that there is something “mythological” in the family of his novel and in all the others, a force that holds them together. It emphasizes that its narrator is not reliable, she is a child who thinks she has an unspeakable secret. “When you are depressed, it is difficult for you to speak because you do not find sense to say anything, but that depressed person continues to have thoughts, the pressure is contained within you,” he explains. “When you’ve gotten over it, it’s hard for you to understand what happened, how black everything was and how you couldn’t speak.”

The title refers to a play that the protagonist sees. “And I liked the phrase, it has something majestic, because America can be anything, it is big and wild and dangerous,” he explains. “With this book I let myself be carried away with language far beyond my memories.” Were you worried that your mother might get angry at what you wrote? “Some things I knew could hurt, but I had fabled the story so much that I knew it would be all right. This is not a newspaper, it is a novel ”.

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