Friday, March 25, 2011

The shivers

She dreams of water
I just finished 'Menneskehavn' by John Ajvide Lindquist. For those of you who don't know the name, he's the author of 'Let The Right One In', which I hope you have seen, the Swedish version, please. 'Menneskehavn' hasn't been translated into English yet, so I don't know what the title will be, but literally it means 'Human Harbor'.

Lindquist mixes realistic settings in modern day Sweden with horror, delving into modern myths like vampires and zombies, but always with a fresh, somber and deeply chilling angle. He's good. He's really good.

This time it was ghosts. Ghosts and creatures of the dark sea. Combined. Man.

I'm not going to say that I don't scare easily, because I do. I scary so easily, I can't watch horror movies. There and then I laugh (a little shrilly perhaps), but I always dream about them afterwards. Nightmares when I was five, nightmares now. Silly imagination.

(Actually, wonderful imagination. Thank you, Great Imagination Dispenser, for those extra couple of squirts. I do love them.)

'Menneskehavn' is the scariest thing I've read in a long time. It was a gift from a friend, and I hadn't read the back before I started it. (I like to do that sometimes. It's like running in the dark.) So when the main character slowly realizes that the presence he senses in his old summer house on the Swedish coast is in fact his dead six-year-old, I cringed with him. When he finds out that the ghost is connected with the dark waters right outside his walls, my belly stung. Dead children and the ocean are definitely on my top five most frightening list, along with women in white nightgowns with hidden faces, old clocks, and porcelain dolls.

At one point, I stayed awake most of the night because I was too afraid to go to sleep. And Magnus still wakes up 10 times every night and my Pan and I have to split the night into shifts just to get by, so one night of lost sleep is A LOT.

Then I spotted Magnus's red winter suit hanging on the bedroom chair, and well...

I think you should read it if you can.

Now for shivers of a more pleasant sort: You have to read what happened to my friend Laini when she went to London to meet the British publishers of her next book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Good heavens. The costumes alone!

(Photo by my fantastically talented sister Line, as always, and this time the photo is of her as well).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In which I get my four-year-old heart broken

I have some grave news about pacifiers. They're not for 37-year-olds.

I remember the day I stopped using one very well. It was my fourth birthday, and my father was tucking me in, and we agreed that I was a big girl now, too big for pacifiers. He turned off the light and I curled up to sleep, feeling both proud and completely lost.

My dad must have been so relieved, he'd been trying to get me to quit for quite some time. Once he took me up on deck of the boat back to Trondheim from the windswept little peninsula where he worked as a teacher. He wanted me to throw the pacifier in the water, so I would know that it was really, truly gone. Eager to please my dad, I plucked it out of my mouth and let it go over the rail. I watched with mounting horror as my pacifier, my love, was swallowed by the churning wake, so thoroughly that it didn't even re-surface before the wake was lost in darkness. Of course I wailed all the way to Trondheim, a good ninety minutes, and our first stop when we reached the city was a pharmacist's.

And now, having watched the stars in Magnus's eyes whenever his darling 'mem' is brought out, I was convinced that I remembered correctly: Nothing in the whole world could be more comforting and soothing.

So I tried it. It was dry, rubbery, awkward and not a little bit exhausting.

Which is not to say that the hole in my four-year-old heart is mended. Not at all. On the contrary, even. I guess some memories are best left alone.

UPDATE: Magnus would like to point out that mothers are clueless.