After the War

I had Antonio Tabucchi´s collection of short stories "Tiden åldras fort" (that´s the Swedish title, as far as I can find out it´s not been translated to English, but the title would be something like "time ages quickly") on a 14-day loan from the library, and because I´ve been travelling, visiting family in the south, I just had time to read two of the nine stories.

Tabucchi is a new aquaintance for me, I didn´t really know what to expect. And from two stories, what can I really say? The first one was about a girl and a man on a beach. She has been watching him for days and strikes up a conversation, probably being a bit bored, as one gets after a few days of leisure. He is a retired officer, not very old, and probably dying. And as they talk, it becomes clear that the girl is adopted (of dark complexion) to Italy and that she has been experiencing a kind of breakdown after meeting children damaged by war. It´s a fascinating conversation, light-hearted but there are depths hinted at. It´s like they really connect in the few minutes that they speak. When the story ends I feel a bit sad that I don´t get to hear them the next day, as they probably will meet again.

The other story I read is about another retired war veteran, but this man was an agent in what we refer to as the Cold War. He is now alone, a widower without friends, struggling to get through his days without something to give them meaning, reflecting on how betrayal and disguise has affected every part of his life. It´s almost comical how he finds it hard to walk the streets without someone to tail, and deeply tragic too.

Perhaps war and the effects of it is a theme in this collection - I don´t know. But as I have googled Tabucchi I have found some other really interesting books by him, that I might borrow. Short stories are always a good thing when one is a bit short of time. Even if you don´t make it through the whole thing, a few complete stories can be read in less than an hour. This is quality literature, a safe recommendation.

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