Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


Mannen som slutade ljuga by Dan Josefsson

The phrase ”Loneliness seems to be such a painful, frightening experience that people do practically everything to avoid it” is marked in one of the psychiatrist Frieda Fromm - Reichmanns books. The person reading the book would be the cause of the justice scandal of the century, perhaps in the history of the Swedish justice system.

Sture Bergwall, alias Thomas Quick, confessed to 39 murders, and was convicted of eight of them. The journalist Hannes Rådstam suspected that he was innocent of not merely one, but all of them, and when he got the truth from Quick he knew he was onto something incredibly big. Unfortunately, he died a while later, before finishing the book. The journalist Dan Josefsson picked up where Rådstam left off, and dedicated this book to him. 

With a hidden agenda Josefsson entered a strange world. A cult. The people working with Quick in therapy were so convinced about their psychiatric theory that any critique about it led to immediate exclusion from the group. Apparently, the theory was that almost every person seeking therapy is in fact a victim of child sexual abuse, even though there are no memories of - and nothing indicates - such a thing. Being a lonely man and realizing that he, for the first time in his life, could be a part of a group of people, and furthermore, that he would be getting more benzodiazepines, Quick - already being in psychiatric care for sexual assault and robbery - had had an idea back in 1993. He began to "recall" memories about sexual abuse, murder and cannibalism in his early childhood, and later on, he recalled he had committed murders in his adult life - things that would make sure he never had to leave his comfortable life in the psychiatric unit. Perhaps, he even began to believe his own words when handled by the psychiatrists.

The psychiatrists' urge to get Quick to confess murder after murder, and dismiss the obvious faults and gaps in his confessions - just to confirm their theory - and the blindness of the police, attorney, prosecutor is really worrying. Behind them all was an elderly psychiatrist called Margit Norell, a person of great integrity and ability to "persuade", even brainwash, a great number of people with a theory that wasn't even scientifically proven.

The worst problem is that this happened in modern time, within a judicial system with apparent flaws. Or, perhaps, there's nothing wrong with the system, only its members. Quick is now freed from all murders and a commission is investigating the verdicts.

The psychiatrists that have destroyed many peoples lives and hindered many murder investigations are still working today. How many people brainwashed and how many murderers are free because of them are not known.


The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The novel is one of five in the H. G. Wells "Classic Collection". "The War of the Worlds" was first published in book form in 1898, and is one of the first books containing a meeting with extra terrestrials. Wells was before his time with his reasoning science tone throughout the book. He has thought of everything, nothing is ignored. His knowledge about science is fascinating.

A shooting star turns out to be something totally different and the beginning of a war the human race could never have imagined, let alone anticipated. When a cylinder crasch into the earth, it doesn't take a long time for a war to begin. In the middle of this, a man and his brother, in separated ways, struggle to survive. Not government officials or a police officers. Simple men.

The only flaw is the lack of character descriptions. The reader doesn't even get to know the names of the main characters, referred to only as ”I”, in the first person narrative, and ”my brother” in the second. But, on the other hand, like in the novel "The Road", the focus lies elsewhere - In this case, it concentrates on a society encountering something so incredible, so unpredictable, that the human race is totally unprepared of it, and what happens in such a devastating situation.

The purpose of the book might have been to explore the themes of relativity and evolution. Relativity, as to the question of morality, and good an evil. Wells discusses the possibility of an attack from a planet, Mars, that becomes uninhabitable and thus forces its beings to seek another place for settlement. They are just in a dire situation for their survival. The Martians aren't trying to kill people for the sake of it. They focus on destroying the organization, the infrastructure and other foundations of society, to eventually be able to make their own, without being disturbed. Then, human beings can serve as nourishment. The Martians aren't unlike human beings in the way that they take what they want, regardless of their absence of rights.

Evolution, as to the survival of the fittest, the development of the Martians, and the question if humans will evolve into a big brain, without bodily organs, digestive systems and sexual reproduction - which in the long term perhaps would diminish the human emotions and mental characteristics. What would happen then? What will happen if we're still around when the sun has cooled and we are forced to explore the universe for survival? In this way, "The War of the Worlds" awakes thoughtful, existential questions. Will we be humble, merciful and considerate to the inferior races on other planets, if they turn out to be inferior, or will we just repeat the cruel actions to native americans, black people, and the pursuit of jews and other minorities, still going on today? Do the people of the Earth have the rights to decide who are inferior and who are superior? Do we have the right to exploit whatever we want?


Ett kort uppehåll på vägen från Auschwitz by Göran Rosenberg

”A short stop on the road from Auschwitz”, in English.

The author claims that there are many stories about how people ended up in the concentration camps, all more or less resembling each other. There are less stories about the way out, and every way out is a unique story. What happens when confronted with the real world again? What thoughts and emotions are going to form the new life? And what happens when the bridge to the past is being forgotten by the world?

Rosenberg's parents survived the ghetto of Lodz, Auschwitz, the slave camps and the death transports. Their life shattered, they finally ended up in Södertälje, in Sweden. Rosenberg's father David liked Sweden, but never felt that he belonged. Without peace, he always wanted to take another step, hence the title.

Rosenberg earned the August prize 2012 for this story about his parents' struggle for a normal life, in a world that's forever altered but forgets fast. He addresses his father throughout the book, tries to learn to know him and follows in his never ending, fleeing footsteps. How difficult to live a normal life in a normal world, when knowing that one's life isn't normal and the world certainly has turned out to be everything but. The rest of the world lives on, as though nothing has happend, and Rosenberg thinks that just because of that, the survivors can't. The knowledge that others didn't survive prevents them from turning their backs on their past. Rosenberg reasons that the survivors might think they ought to have survived for a reason. For the horrible past to be remembered. Perhaps they think they owe it to the ones that didn't survive, and therefor they are trapped between their self declared purpose to remember and not wanting to. As difficult as it is to face, the past is catching up, anyway. So, what happens when the world moves on and the holocaust is nearly forgotten? Rosenberg's father wasn't the same as he used to be, and he wasn't like the people around him. Who was he if not confronted by the past? His place, where he had grown up, was destroyed and the place he had come to know as his new home was limited. Perhaps it would have been easier to heal if the world acknowledged the holocaust instead of trying to forget it. To share the self made responsibility of remembering all by himself.

It's really emotional to read about his father's frequent work situations, his search for something, the attempt to fill every moment with something that prevents the shadows from catching up with him. The saddest part is that David never really left Auschwitz. He was trapped, and the new environment didn't offer an opening. There was no way out.

Rosenberg honours his father in a truly heartbreaking, beautiful way, through fragments of memory, described with the most philosophical prose, and old letters between his mother and father. In a world that forgets, books like this one are the very foundation on which a better society could be built. We can't afford to view the holocaust as a distant event. We have to realize it's the world we live in to make it a better place.


Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar, del 1 Kärleken av Jonas Gardell

During the 80's, a homosexual life in Sweden, and most of the world, probably, was almost impossibly difficult. Everywhere people judged them and even the high esteemed newspaper Dagens Nyheter viewed homosexuality as a sickness. The book, being the first of three, is loosely based on real events and real people known by the author. Where ever Gardell appears to talk about the horrible past, he tears up. It was his friends that while receiving neither acceptance nor comfort died like flies of a strange, unknown and incurable disease, which would later be known as AIDS. Gardell states that it is so incredibly important never to forget these people, and how they were stigmatized by the society until their very end. They deserve to be remembered. People always say that the past is the past, but that's just an excuse to avoid responsibility. The world has to remember for it to never happen again.

It's an incredibly sad story, but at the same time there are a few glimpses of real, relieving happiness, when the two men, one of which a former bully victim, and the other a jehovah's witness, finally drop their disguises and are themselves only.

Gardell's writing alternates between being magnificent and very simple, but perhaps that's the perfect way to reach through to people. This isn't meant to be a big work of prose. This is meant to reach and affect people, and that it absolutely did. Reading this book is almost as being there, back in the early 80's, in the middle of all the injustice, alienation and the AIDS epidemic. This is the most important Swedish literature in a long time.


A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

"A Doll's House", "Ett dockhem" in Swedish, is one of the plays included in "Pjäser 1". Being one of the most talented playwrights in the 19th century, Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian counterpart to Swedish Strindberg, is the most frequent performed dramatist in the world, second to Shakespeare. It's impossible to describe how influential he was. Ibsen is referred to as "the father of realism". "A Doll's House", premiered in 1879 a few weeks after its publication, became the most performed play in the world. UNESCO has inscribed the autographed manuscripts on the "Memory of the world register" because of it's historical value.

The main theme in the play is women rights in a society of neglect and ignorance, where the only accepted roles for a woman to play were wife and mother. The title is referred to the main theme, comparing women to diminished, helpless and frivolous dolls, in the need of a husband to protect and provide for them. On the surface, the marriage seems happy if seen through the eyes of the 19th century people. The character Nora pretends to be someone she is not. Eventually, though, she refuses to succumb to the conventions of society.  It's a strong play with a strong female character, a feminist of her time.


The Garlic Ballads by Mo Yan

The farmers of Paradise County are encouraged by the government to plant garlic. When the warehouses fill up and the taxes rise, the garlic begins to decompose, causing the farmers to starve. Mo Yan earned the Nobel Prize in literature in 2012. The Garlic Ballads is loosely based on the true story of a revolt, taking place in 1987, against the Chinese communist government. The book was banned due to it's regime criticism, but nevertheless, Mo Yan has received critique for being too vague in his claims. However, his anti government opinions are rather evident in this book. 

Almost as disturbing as the government's treatment of the people is the way the people treat each other. It's not only the regime that is unfair and ruthless, the fellow prisoners are as cruel. A life is worth nothing. Perhaps, if told all your life that it's the truth, one begins to behave that way. Furthermore, people are thinking differently than those with money and conveniences. In the middle of all the devastation, aunt Fang thinks about her life, and how wonderful it has been.

The story shifts between the main characters Gao Yang and Gao Ma, both of which were carefully crafted. Although, there's something slightly flat about the character of the oldest Fang brother, his personality doesn't feel consistent. 

The stench of garlic is everywhere and symbolizes the boiling unhappiness that eventually turns to hatred. There are few books with so much filth, urine, excrement and vomit, serving as a big contrast to the fractions of love and kindness. The expressive prose is rare and drags you into the story. You can feel everything with your own senses. You can smell the rotting garlic, sometimes too much. You can feel the crawling lice from the mattress, always too much. But you can also feel the beautiful things, the determinism of the farmers having enough, the beautiful relationship between the young couple, the green, resplendent, living and breathing crop fields, illuminated by the moon. Few authors has the ability to alternate their writing in this way.

What the little foal represent is for the reader to interpret. That questions Mo Yan didn't answer when visiting Sweden to receive his earned Nobel Prize. Hope, perhaps. Or the tiny bit of freedom left, the very souls of the characters.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Girl disappears.

Amy Dunne disappears on the day of her fifth wedding anniversary. What follows is the police investigation, suspicions and flashbacks of a dysfunctional marriage. This is a real page-turner, not high paced but it's something in the writing. The rhythm, the structure - every other chapter presenting Nick's view, and half of the chapters the perspective of Amy, through her diary notes, leading up to her disappearance. The nuances between the happy, perfect couple marrying each other, the fed up couple and the dysfunctional married couple. The cracks building along the way, causing devastation.

This is a psychological thriller. It's what's being said between the lines, in glances and behavior, that's thrilling. The diary flashbacks of the atmosphere between Nick and Amy. Nick's very strange behavior after her disappearance. The suspense is in the small details, and they never fail to bring a new twist. However, as much as the unpredictable twists and turns along the way are thrilling, the ending somehow isn't that much of a surprise. But, nevertheless, it's a fitting and interesting ending.

What's special about Gone Girl, compared to other thrillers, besides the detailed plot and an intelligent way for it to unfold, is the themes that Flynn explores through the book, as when presenting us with the "Good girl" - syndrome. A "Good girl" - referring to the kind of girl always listening to her husband. Indulging, accepting and forgiving his short-comings. Obeying him, agreeing with him and having sex on his terms. Furthermore, she is beautiful, thin, can eat what she wants without gaining weight and likes sports. A girl created by men, to serve men. Every girl wants and tries to be her, but the problem is she doesn't exist, exactly like the perfect man who always listens and obeys doesn't exist. Sooner or later, a married couple figure this out, the fact that they aren't the same people they once knew. And when that happens, one might be disappointed, if not worse.

This book discusses many interesting topics, it's a thriller, a crime novel, but the fundamental part is the concept of love, marriage and what the word unconditional really means. It's a refreshing thriller in a time when everyone seems to think of themselves as authors and the assembly line of average crime novels being produced are longer than ever.