Thursday, April 8, 2010

i am not here

Dorph/Pasternak (here>>). Two novels already out, third just done: Jeg er ikke her. I Am Not Here. Nordic crime, dark as fuck. Easily the best thing going on in the genre here. The Danish original won't be out for a while, but here's a brief taster from the English sample:

Erik Rohde turned his head in front of the bathroom mirror and pulled back his lips with two fingers. He got the torch in his mouth and found the right angle and turned it on. Fine and smooth it was, and he felt the relief in his stomach, the penicillin had done the trick. He felt with the tip of his tongue, caught his pupil in the mirror, made to contract by the light. Be fine again. He opened his mouth again to make sure, and there on the back of his tongue was a nubbly lustre of tiny white spots. The thrush was all over now, inside the dark of his organism. He felt dizzy and imagined it spreading to his guts and eating him up and spitting him out so he tumbled into his open grave. He got his head over the toilet bowl and felt the spasms in his stomach, but there was only slime to come up and some of it landed on the seat. There were dark strands in it, he wiped it up with his index finger and turned it in the pale light. Blood.
“Dad, are you finished in there?”
“Go back to bed and sleep, Marie”
“I need a wee.”
“Can’t you use the downstairs toilet?”
“It’s too cold.”
“Go, for Christ’s sake!”
It was quiet again and he heard Marie Louise go down the corridor and the stairs to the ground floor creak. He felt sorry he’d snapped. He heard the door of the downstairs toilet. Kartoffelrækkerne – the Potato Rows – crooked, old houses in three storeys facing the Lakes, full of your kids and my kids, now our kids, stripped pine furniture, Christiania bikes and architects, nothing more than stairs and built-in cupboards, tiny rooms, and you couldn’t open a door without the whole place creaking and groaning and howling.
He stood listening to the sounds of the house. Ann Charlotte had put on a record. Bartok’s concerto for viola and orchestra. She was saying something to Marie now, he couldn’t hear what.
He and Ann Charlotte rarely spoke, he avoided her, they were busy, took turns staying at work and looking after Peter. The little chap with his middle ear infections since March, and they’d drained the fluid, it got better, he wasn’t crying any more at night, but it hadn’t really gone away either.
He missed her.
Rohde clenched his fist. It’d all be like before, before the fever and the thrush and the dry cough, the purple rash on his throat and his face, and the eternal stitch in his side and the nausea. The new broad-spectrum penicillin just needed time to kick in.
He stood at the mirror again. Had he put on weight as well?
He opened the cupboard and took out Ann Charlotte’s powder case, it was Chanel, there was a little beige pad in it. He smoothed some powder out with difficulty, pressed it with his finger, it seemed so stupid, but he was obsessed by it, covered up the purple spots, covered up his whole face.
He looked in the mirror again.
Good as new.
He smiled. Nightshift in twenty minutes. KCB. Kriminalpolitiets Centrale Beredskab. Crime Investigation Department. He put on his work clothes, light blue shirt, flannels, Ecco shoes.
Six hours by himself.
Six hours to think about something else.

© Christian Dorph & Simon Pasternak 2010
Translation © Martin Aitken 2010

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