To be more interesting than one´s work
This book, "Prästunge och maskrosboll" (= preacher´s kid and dandelion ball) by Rolf Alsing, is a labour of love. In the preface he writes that Tunström, who lost his father at age twelve, helped him through his own grief after a dead father, by way of literature. Reading this just after all that diving into Olof Lagercrantz makes me think of him, of course, and I imagine that if someone else wrote a book about Tunström, perhaps the theme of grief would not be as emphasized. And indeed, Alsing quotes Lagercrantz in his preface, so he is by no means unaware of this. It´s not an academic study, this, it´s a kind of friendship book (like "Vårt behov av Olof"), a celebration of a man´s work, a hard-worked 'thank you'-note and an introduction for curious, new readers.
Unfortunately, the book does not make me want to read more of Tunström. Can´t really put my finger on why. However, I only have to go up into my library, pick up "The Christmas Oratorio" and read a paragraph from anywhere and I feel the magic again. Funny that, with other writer´s it´s the other way around. I have read plenty about Virginia Woolf, for instance, but one page of her books is often enough for me. She doesn´t grab me, but she has grabbed others, who in their turn manage to write so enthusiastically about her that I feel she should grab me, too. In this case, Tunström advertises himself better than Alsing manages to do. And good for Tunström. He outwrites at least this admirer. (I don´t mean by this that Woolf is outwritten by her admirers and biographers, I´m sure it´s just me...)
Anyway, it´s a shame so little by Tunström has been translated. With lesser writers translated left and right, you´d think... At least there is "The Christmas Oratorio". A wonderful novel. Magical. About love, death, grief, madness, music. Mercy. Tunström is a writer who´s life will never outshine his work, and I´m sure he would not have wanted it any other way.