by Torgny Lindgren

Torgny Lindgren writes down his reminiscences which together form a story. What is true and has actually happened, the reader will probably never find out. And that isn’t the point either. As we know, one’s memory is an extremely unreliable source.

“You ought to write your reminiscences,” said the publisher. “I can’t do that,” I said. “I don’t have any reminiscences.”

Which of my six publishers it was, that I can’t remember. Probably all six of them, but at different times. Book publishers are expendable items. They all have the same sort of wishes.

“Everybody has reminiscences,” said the publisher and smiled at me, he or she believing that I wanted to show off by claiming that I didn’t have any memories.

“I have convinced myself that I can’t remember anything,” I said. “For almost half a century I have earned my living from that conviction. That is a lot of things I haven’t remembered. To start calling them reminiscences now would be embarrassing.”

“Authors’ memoirs are rather popular,” said the publisher, the finger sketching in the air a graphic chart from the sales department. “I could show you our sales figures.”

“You know perfectly well,” I pointed out, “that I don’t understand figures. I can’t remember them. If I’d been able to remember figures I wouldn’t have become an author.”

“I understand your thought,” said the publisher. “The days and years just flash by. We can’t hold on to anything. But deep inside us they are all stored away nevertheless.”

Beyond the water down below the windows of the publishing house, the finest buildings in Stockholm glowed in the midday sun. On various occasions I have been a guest in all of those magnificent buildings. When and why, that I can’t remember.

“Yes, indeed,” I said, “everything is stored and composted inside us, but in which parts of the body, that I don’t know. But they are not reminiscences.”

“Have you never kept a diary?” wondered the publisher.

“All my life,” I said. “Temperature and the state of the sky, morning and evening. People’s names, most of them dead. I often say: Where did he go? and somebody else says: He died several years ago in a nursing home in Örebro. Railway stations, airports. Cars I have bought and sold. Street addresses in Vienna and Munich and Paris and Berlin. When I’ve been constipated and when I’ve had diarrhoea. Sleepless nights.”

“Well, there you are!”

“No,” I said. “There are no reminiscences.”

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