Who exactly is Dirk Svensson?
Why should I be the one to ask him this question?
Where does he live and why there?
How does he live?
Why a childrens book?
Is Svensson first and foremost an author or illustrator?
Can you be two things at the same time?
and suddenly theres the small, pretty woman with the boy (ice cream on his T-shirt) sitting two benches down. She wipes his mouth clean and then licks his ice cream off her finger, she takes a cigarette out of his backpack. She looks over at me, and this time she laughs. In front of her stands a small suitcase. Up to this point weve taken the same path, but soon Ill meet Svensson. Well go our separate ways, well have to part. I concentrate and write
Can you want two things at the same time?
Does the black dog really exist? And if so:
Where is its fourth leg?
Who exactly is Daniel Mandelkern?
Im early, Svensson is early. There really is a black dog with three legs standing on the deck and coughing as the boat docks (Macumba in blue writing on the pale wood). Dirk Svensson pushes the gearshift into neutral with the ball of his thumb and throws the line to me (the childrens book author in a purple T-shirt and taller and heavier than in the pictures). Hello, I say, its very nice to meet you. Svensson shuts off the outboard and doesnt reply, hes wearing a cap (Los Angeles Lakers, the purple faded, but not the gold). Daniel Mandelkern, I say, but Svensson is looking past me. Macumba scrapes along the green pedal boats. Svensson suddenly ignores his boat, he gives me a nod, me and my tugging at the rope, he climbs across a few pedal boats to the shore. The small, pretty woman with the boy is still sitting two benches down, shes sitting there in her green, in her beauty, and waiting with the boy in the shade of a linden tree. Svensson leaves me standing there and goes to her (remain polite and get all this over with). Tuuli, he says, and reaches for her wrist and the nape of her neck. The woman gets up, Svensson pulls her up, her back bolt upright, the dog coughs, the dirty swans of Lugano hiss, yellowed as if from cigarettes, the dog barks. Quiet, Lua, says Svensson, quiet.
Excerpted from Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger, translated by Ross Benjamin. Copyright (c) 2008 by Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln. The translation of this work was supported by a grant from the Goethe-Institut which is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. English translation copyright (c) 2011 by Ross Benjamin. Originally published in German under the title Bestattung eines Hundes. Used by permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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No Man's Land
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