"One of Us Is Sleeping" by Josefine Klougart [Short Teaser]

I started reading Martin Aitken’s translation from the Danish of Josefine Klougart’s One of Us Is Sleeping yesterday and came across this passage that I wanted to share. I know I need to post a more comprehensive overview of our forthcoming books—both for the winter and next spring—but for now, here’s a taste of the second book in our “Danish Women Writers Series.” The penultimate paragraph is the bit I like the most.

The fatality of time and again believing the world is determined by something. Something outside of itself. Or just determined, in whatever way at all. Timing. Believing you can see patterns in the world is the same as imagining you can reach out of a window, hold out your hand and wait a couple of seconds until a leaf, a feeble, tattered leaf, settles there gently, surely in your palm. The same as expecting you can fall asleep, in such a world.

And yet it happens all the time: people fall asleep. You see connections. Or you think you see connections; and for a moment you might feel you belong.

That something like a home exists.

Only it’s not as simple as that; there are moments of collapse, life consists of little else.

A face brought down, revealed to be one’s own.

Sensing how the sand on the beach in front of the hotel at Svinkløv is retrieved by the sea as each wave retreats. The current they warn you against, and which the body recognises before the mind; an urge to succumb.

And that would be it.

What such an urge might mean.

She misses having a home, it’s a condition.

Eventually she falls asleep and dreams about a man who says in English: My hands are dirty, you don’t want to meet me.

The world laughing in your face like that. The writing laughs with it, that line of dialogue. It all gets entangled in the writing. What was, and what is, or perhaps may come. Sentences and lines of dialogue.

A desire to be older, revealing itself to be a desire not to lose one’s childhood. Not to lose anything, whatever it might be, to maintain a hold in the flow of all things, to stand firm there and: preserve. In some form, to keep hold of it all, and not leave anything behind in that burning house. Wherever you go, you leave behind you a trail of disaster, no matter what the circumstance, that’s how it is. A trail of collapse, something falling outside of all recollection, all that is not remembered by anyone and is forgotten by the world. She is not quite sure, but the feeling grows stronger, she sees it in him; a kind of reverse will to live; a nostalgic reluctance towards surrendering oneself to the world that exists. That kind of panic in the tissue, a fear of forgetting. She writes so as not to forget things, or else she writes in order to forget things and invent others more worthy of remembrance. Perhaps that’s what writing is: you start moving about in the world like a sleepwalker in the night, looking for something more real, a truth there; and then all of a sudden it is sleep that you sacrifice, then suddenly the family, then everything that is valuable and means something. Dreams while awake, ideas, pulling everything with them like waves returning, returning to the sea, faces washed away, washed clean of all humanity. Or the opposite: invoking a humanity all too exaggerated: too much human in too small a space, that pealing reality when your entire being wants that someone else.

She thought the right thing to do was perhaps to find a life first, and only then look for a way of working that fit in with that life. That it should happen in that order, instead of carrying on the way things were; searching for a way of living that fit in with her work.

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