Not a Pretty Person

Another 14 day loan, "Dagarna med Kerstin" (= days with Kerstin) by Åsa Mattsson and Caroline Roosmark (photos). Kerstin Thorvall is one of those authors that I have never read, have never even been tempted to read, but who I´m fascinated by and like to read about. I realize that she is very important, particularly to feminism (although she was not liked by the feminists). She made a huge scandal in the 70´s, daring to write about being a crap mother, having young lovers, exposing herself, warts and all. Perhaps it added to the scandal that she was known as a writer for children and young adults. She had even illustrated one of Astrid Lindgren´s books. She also worked as a journalist and fashion illustrator.

Mattsson does not paint a pretty picture of the aging writer, she finds Kerstin rather demanding, overbearing, manipulative and egocentric. And considering how Thorvall has written about herself, and one of her sons has also written about her, I suppose nothing but the whole and sordid truth would do.

I have known a few people like Kerstin Thorvall. They seem to assume that they are what they say they are, and that they have the right to be loved. However, in real life the words (and fiction) matter little, it´s what we do that others will base their opinions on. And Kerstin is just too much. Her tragedy is that she wants to be loved, she wants to be taken care of, but no one can stand her for long. Still, she has company a lot of the time, young people are attracted to her genious as a legendary author, but it´s never enough for her. She is always critical, always wants more. She just hasn´t understood that love is about giving, not about recieving no end.

Or hadn´t, I should say. This book is based on interviews made 2002 - 2004, when Thorvall was 77 - 79 years old and already ill and dependent on home carers to get through the day. Her last book was about the care of the elderly, and what it feels like to have strangers going in and out of your home. She died in 2010, suffering by that time from dementia as well. Not a pretty life, not a pretty end. As an over-emotional human being, she probably had more joy than happiness in her life. And a lot of rage as well.

Perhaps I should read her after all.

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