A couple of weeks ago Sweden voted in a center-right government (for you Americans, center-right in Sweden means to the left of the Democrats). As part of the regime change, they've put in new people at the top, naturally, including a new Minister for Culture (can you imagine having a Minister for Culture in the U.S.? What would such a person do?). Unfortunately, Cecilia Stegö Chilò, the new Minister for Culture, hasn't made a very good impression - critics seem to think that her background working at a conservative think tank means she doesn't have much experience with cultural issues such as art, theatre, music - and it recently came out that she hasn't paid her TV license fee for 16 years (can you imagine having a TV license fee in the U.S.?), which at a minimum means she's a scofflaw.
"They asked her what books she has on her nightstand, and she said she has five but then she couldn't name any of them," the husband told me.
Could you name the books on your nightstand?
I actually had to go look and confirm: The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist (which I just finished and liked immensely but wouldn't recommend to anyone); Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (I should just toss the book, every time I try to read it I realize I can stand neither the style nor the subject), What Love Means to You People by NancyKay Shapiro. I had forgotten two books that have been sitting there forever: The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald and The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek, neither of which have turned out to be my cup of tea.
But the sixth book, which I did remember, and which is my cup of tea but for some reason I keep letting it get superseded by other books, is My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk.
And now he's won the Nobel Prize for Literature. It's time to pick it up again and finish - it really is fantastical and charming and fascinating and dark all at once.
The Swedish word for the day is läsare. It means reader.
- by Francis S.