Knausgårds katastrofala lunch med en kollega i New York

New York Times Magazine skildrar Karl Ove Knausgård sin resa genom USA. I den första delen, ”My Saga, Part 1”, skriver han om en katastrofal lunch med en amerikansk kollega vid ett tidigare besök i New York:

”[…] last time I was in New York, when a well-known American writer invited me for lunch. I brought three of my children with me, none of whom speak English. I thought we might have some difficulty, but hoped for the best. He came and picked us up at the hotel, and we took the subway down to Chinatown, where we found a suitable restaurant. I tried desperately to think of something to say. We had to have something in common, we were about the same age, did the same thing for a living, wrote novels, though his were of considerably higher quality than mine. But no, I couldn’t come up with a single topic of conversation.

He talked a little, I listened, nodding politely now and then, said: “Oh, really? Is that so?” while all the time I also had to communicate with the children, who weren’t used to strangers either.

When we got back to Sweden, I received an email from him. He apologized for having invited me to lunch, he had realized he never should have done it and asked me not to reply to his email.

At first I didn’t understand what he meant. I thought we’d had a good time. So why was he apologizing?

Then I realized he must have taken my silence personally. He must have thought I didn’t find it worth my time talking to him.

I wrote back and asked him if he’d seen any Bergman movies? No one talks there either. And Finland was even worse; there, no one ever said anything to each other. I wrote that I’m always like this, that I never say anything to people I don’t know, even when they’re having dinner at our house. He never answered.”

Vem är den kände amerikanska kollegan?

Knausgård avslöjar däremot inte vem den kände författaren är och det har spekulerats. Men häromdagen gav sig författaren tillkänna, i en recension i New York Times av Knausgårds senaste till engelska översatta Min kamp: ”Karl Ove ­Knausgaard’s ‘My Struggle: Book 4’” Recensionen börjar så här:

”‘The last time I was in New York,’ Karl Ove ­Knausgaard wrote recently in The New York Times Magazine, in his account of traveling through the ­United States, ‘a well-known American writer invited me for lunch. . . . I tried desperately to think of something to say. We had to have something in common, we were about the same age, did the same thing for a living, wrote novels, though his were of considerably higher quality than mine. But no, I couldn’t come up with a single topic of ­conversation. . . . When we got back to Sweden, I received an email from him. He apologized for having ­invited me to lunch, he had realized he never should have done it and asked me not to reply to his email. At first I didn’t understand what he meant. . . . Then I ­realized he must have taken my silence personally. He must have thought I didn’t find it worth my time talking to him.’

Knausgaard doesn’t reveal the identity of the American writer he had lunch with. But I will: It was me. I may be the first reviewer of Knausgaard’s autobiographical works who has appeared in one of them.”

Recensionen är skriven av Jeffrey Eugenides. Jag kommer osökt att tänka på inledningen till en av Erik Lindegrens sonetter: ”i speglarnas sal…” Men det här kanske bara är början, det kanske fortsätter med att Knausgård i sin nästa bok skriver om att en känd amerikansk författare, som han ätit lunch med och skrivit om i New York Times Magazine, skrev om lunchen i sin recension i New York Times av Knausgårds senaste bok. Vilket Jeffrey Eugenides sedan kan kommentera i sin eventuella recension av boken.

Ola Wihlke

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