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    Portlandia – and the postpandemic desire for a brave new world

    The end of a pandemic is sure as hell just as weird as the pandemic itself. I naively used to think that one day, it would be all over, people would open their windows, screaming and laughing and dancing in the street for days. Instead, freedom has crept in gradually, with the first vaccination, figures going down, and suddenly one realizes, one could attempt travel the world again, at least in parts. And once realized, that feeling for me became so strong it required some sort of manifestation. An expression of that sense of awakening, like a packing of bags or a decampment – and yet one stays put. At…

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    It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

    This famous quote by Charles Dickens is the first line of his novel “The Tale of Two Cities”, a historical novel about the years leading up to the French revolution. It is a standard example in writing classes about “How to begin a novel” because it not only sticks with you, but also intrigues you to no end. Every author dreams about finding a first line like that. And it has been constantly used in past months to describe the times we live in. So, inevitably, here comes my version of it 😊   It was the best of times, it was the worst of times   We have been deprived,…

  • Writing

    Miyazaki and the Panther

    This is a teaser to my upcoming short story collection “Almost Happy”, hopefully to be published  by the end of 2021, yay! Almost Happy is all about that intensity we call love, the joys and wisdoms it brings and how it makes us who we are – with or without a Happy Ending. It consists of four novellas and five short stories which act as a kind of intermission. The novellas all begin with a poem as a prologue, capturing the heart of the story. This here is one of my favourites: Miyazaki and the Panther is the story of a young single woman who desperately tries to will her…

  • Writing

    Locked Down in Winter – or the Fear of the Pause

    It is snowing outside; I am sitting inside. Warm, healthy, and rested. It is well below zero and I watch the snowflakes dance through the air. Perfect crystals making tiny pirouettes before they land on each other, forming a white, flawless blanket. A friend just sent me a video of his cat sitting by the window, trying to chase them. One by one. Life seems to be paused. As if somebody pushed a button and put the big game of life on hold. Though this winter is a Pause unlike anything we have lived through, it seems to me that the state of being paused is not entirely new. Winter…

  • Writing

    From the House of Prompts: The China-Woman

    At writing workshops, tutors often use every day items or photographs as a writing prompt. It always amazes me what complex stories people can spin from the simplest things. When I come home for Christmas, I often feel as if I am entering the House of Prompts. My parents’ house is full of things that were inherited from my grandparents, that belonged to my father or that were a gift from someone we once knew. There is an emotional connection, a story how they entered this house, but usually no one to ask for a full account. Inevitably, we build their stories according to our own memories – and imagination…

  • Writing

    In My Own Words

    About 5 years ago, when I started creative writing courses, my writing tutor recommended this book to me: In Other Words is written by the US bestselling author Jumpa Lahiri about her taking a vow to learn to write in Italian. She wrote fiction only in Italian for years. The book became a bestseller, so you may know the story. And obviously this could be a book for me as I also chose to write fiction only in a language that is not my mother tongue. For some reason, I never picked it up until now. Like people and lovers, every book has a fixed time to enter your life,…