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Excerpt from Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Wonderful Feels Like This

by Sara Lovestam

Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam X
Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 320 pages

    Jul 2018, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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About this Book

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It had taken her an eternity just to figure out the lyrics. Like most of Povel Ramel's songs, they aren't online, and all the many words flashed by in an instant. Once, in the fifth grade, she'd performed "I'm Digging You" in music class and was met with forty-four rolling eyes. Her music teacher tried to make them more receptive by explaining that this was actually the first rap song out of Sweden, written by the hardworking and mischievous Povel Ramel. It didn't help that her teacher pronounced "rap" as "repp."

The batteries run out halfway home. Steffi stops and shakes her player; sometimes this squeezes out ten more minutes. Sometimes it doesn't. For a second, she thinks she hears it start up again, but when she puts on her headphones, she doesn't hear anything. She shakes the player again but realizes as she's shaking it that she's already hearing the music. It's "Where's the Soap?" And it's not coming from her headphones. She furrows her brow.

Nobody is around. Other than the weak sound of music, it's completely quiet. The streetlights shine on no one but herself. Still, she can hear the words clearly: The wind's stopped howling, the old aunt stopped growling.… She stands stock-still and brings her player to her ear to make sure that the music's not coming from it. Then quiet falls again. A handful of snow slips from a tree branch. She is just about to start walking again when the next song starts: "Jazz Is Calling."

Steffi turns around. Then she turns slightly to the left and finally to the right to zero in on the sound. It seems to come from the short row of town houses a few meters back from the road.

Her feet leave silent marks in the snow. The notes of a string bass and a clarinet bubble out like champagne, slightly muffled, but coming closer. When she comes to the fourth window along the row of town houses, she sees it's slightly open. The music is coming from there, right next to her. Povel Ramel's high-pitched voice finds its way out into the empty February air around her. It's like being in a dream. She stands there until the clarinet has wailed up into a falsetto and then dies out. The wind is ruffling through a spruce tree somewhere, the dark sky seems to touch her head, and the yellow bricks in front of her are harsh with black shadows. Then there's a noise from the window above her head, and she jumps as if she's been slapped.

A voice, nothing like Povel Ramel's, rasps at her as the shape of a head forms inside the window frame. Steffi wants to run away, but her body won't move.

"So, answer me!" the voice barks from the window.

Steffi is breathless, even though she's been standing absolutely still. She has to swallow before she can say a word. "What … I didn't hear what you asked," she calls up to the window.

"Well, then, let me repeat myself! Why are you standing around down there?"

Steffi has to think for a moment. Why does anyone stand around outside someone's window?

"I heard someone playing Povel Ramel."

More noise comes from the window and then it's opened so wide that she can now clearly see the man's whole head. He's almost completely bald; his face has cheeks that are long and narrow, and his bushy white eyebrows are as white as the hair sprouting out of his ears. His lips turn up in an amused smile. "I'm sure you did, since I was playing Povel Ramel."

Steffi stares openmouthed at the man in the window. He's really old. Not like Grandma and Grandpa, who have just retired, but with wrinkly skin like parchment paper, like the old folks in the care center. He sucks on his lip and then lets it go.

"Do you know when he recorded this song I just played?"

Her heart starts to beat again, like when her teacher asks her a question she knows. Even more so, since she's standing in the snow and being questioned about Povel Ramel. She feels that her answer will change everything.

Copyright © 2013 by Sara Lövestam. Translation copyright © 2017 by Laura A

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Beyond the Book:
  Jazz, Sweden, and WWII

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