CYÄEGHA – Sverigespecial.

Det brittiska Lovecraftfanzinet CYÄEGHA har kommit ut med sitt femte nummer och den här gången är det Sverigespecial. Sveriges mest namnkunniga Lovecraftskribenter har översatts till engelska och presenteras för en internationell publik. Här finner vi författare som Anders Fager, Fredrik F.G Granlund, Martin Andersson, Richard Berghorn och…. jag.

Jag skrev på begäran en text om Anders Fager i extrem Gonzo-stil och till min förvåning publicerade de den. Jag vill gärna dela med mig av den till bloggens läsare. Ni får ha överseende med den bitvis knaggliga engelskan. Det var mitt första försök att skriva en text direkt på engelska på många år. Jag kan även passa på att berätta att en riktig intervju med Fager kommer dyka upp på bloggen om inte allt för länge.

Tillägg: Jag vill inte på något sätt påskina att jag hör till gräddan av Lovecraftskribenter i landet. Jag är en halvdan bloggare, thats it.

The weird professional – A drink with Anders Fager

”Here” he said and placed a glass in front of me. It was filled with a green liquid and the color reminded me of emeralds.

“It´s absinthe, the real stuff. The owner bought some bottles that were hidden away during the war. It´s not the watered down shit you can get from systembloaget.”

“Oh. From world war II?” I said mostly to make conversation.

“No” he replied with a deadpan look. “The other one. The one they never told you about.”

He then produced two strangely shaped spoons and proceeded to show me how to place a lump of sugar on it and then slowly pour water from a small jar over it into the absinth. The dark green liquid turned slightly milky as we poured.

How did I end up here, dear reader? In an unnamed bar with horror writer Anders Fager? I´ll try to state the facts in the case as clear as I can. Some are indisputable and some are up to you, esteemed reader, to determine the truth in.

FACT: Anders Fager is a Swedish author. He was born in 1964. He lives in Stockholm. He is a historian and a professional officer but now he teaches writing for a living. He has also constructed several successful board games which has won him acclaim both from players and critics. His best known game is The Hellgame, a game where players battle for the supreme power in hell. His website says nothing about wife or children and when I asked him about it he deftly changed the subject. He is the author of the successful  short story collection Samlade svenska kulter (Collected Swedish cults) and a leading figure in the new wave of Swedish horror which is following the success of John Ajvide Lindqvist.

FACT: My name is Stefan Nordin. I´m a librarian and I write for a blog which concentrates on fantastic literature and cinema. For reasons of personal safety I will not name the blog here but I can say as much as the name alludes to a famous Machen story.

FACT: I had rewieved his book on my blog and I really liked it. He sent me an email thanking me for the rewiev and I took the chance to ask him for an interview. Mutual friends on facebook told me he could be a bit odd but I wasn’t prepared for what would happen.

His reply to my mail was short and courteous. Yes he would do an interview and specified the time and date. He didn’t specify a place so by a whim I emailed him back and suggested we meet at the helicopter pad just outside Stockholm’s old town. At the time I was writing an article about 80: s skinhead culture in Sweden and the pad was one of their hangouts so I guess it just popped into my head.

That sunny Friday in May I took the train to Stockholm. I was in time but when I approached the helipad ten minutes early he was already there. He was immaculately dressed in a grey costume, white shirt and a tie with a discreet checkerboard pattern. He wore a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers and as I walked closer I could see he was checking the time on an Omega Speed master. The only thing that separated him from your average Stockholm business man was a discreet pin on the lapel of his suit. Small and golden looking like an octopus.

As I came close he looked up and asked “Are you Stefan?” “Yes” I replied.

“We can´t stay here. This is Dagon country.” He said and swiftly strode away into one of the old towns small alleys. I scrambled to follow him and then to match his brisk walk. I caught up with him outside an unmarked doorway. As I waited he rang the buzzer and simply said “Fager 4468790”. The door clicked open.

The hall was as nondescript as the door. Old stairs painted a faint gray and doors without names on them. He led me down the stairs to the basement and opened a heavy black door. The room we entered was cavernous, badly lit and like a tunnel of old bricks. At the left side was a bar manned by a freakishly obese man totally without hair. I don’t mean a shaved head. He had no hair whatsoever, No eyebrows, and no eyelashes. He seemed to know Fager as he just nodded at us as we went on in and settled by a table in the far end of the bar. Fager went to the bar and got the glasses of absinthe I mentioned.

I put my old beaten up HTC Hero on the table.

“Is it ok if I record this?” I asked.

“Sure” he said and then leaned towards my phone saying “Testing testing” with a smile.

Have you seen pictures of Anders Fager? If you look at his facebook page you can see pictures of him as a young man. In those he looks a lot like Lou Reed and he still does. He is thinner than Reed but has the same weathered look.

I was just about to ask my first question when his phone started ringing. I can’t say I was surprised when I heard that the phone was playing Mozart’s Requiem. He answered it and started talking in what I think was Latin.

He finished the call and said with a small smile “My girlfriend. She is the jealous type and wanted to know where I was.”

“So I read your book and I really like how it first appears to be a short story collection but after a while merge into a novel where the stories interlocks and you paint an occult history of Sweden.”

“Thank you. That was my whole point with the book. And I might add you are very close with an occult history”

“What do you mean?”

Fager just tapped his nose and smiled. At that point I first notice a tattoo on his left hand. It looks like a tentacle emerging from his wrist and spiraling round his thumb. It’s remarkably well done and looks almost lifelike.

We keep talking about his book and sip our absinthe. It´s my first time tasting real absinthe and I try to make up my mind about its spicy and heavy taste. Fager glanced down on his watch and at that moment  I notice the tattoo now has moved to his index finger. I think he heard my short intake of air because he quickly moved his hand under the table.

Our conversation continued and we talked a lot about Lovecraft, Barker and Gaiman. I was just about to ask him about his work with board games when an old man slowly descended the stairs to the bar. There was something vaguely familiar with him. Something about his unruly white hair but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Shit not him” said Fager. “I can´t bear to talk to him right now. Finish your drink and we´ll take a walk. I´ll show you the house where Fredman was born.”

“Fredman is a fictional character from the songs of Bellman” I replied.

“Yeah. That’s what they tell you” said Fager and again tapped his nose.

“Who was the old man you didn’t want to talk to?”

“His name is August and he´s SUCH a bore. If he corners you then you get an hour worth of his ramblings about alchemy and the strange amount of playing cards he finds on the street. I swear he goes out looking for them:”

We emerged from the strange bar and found that the sunny weather had changed. A cold wind was blowing and drizzle hit our faces. I turned up the collar of my jacket and we started walking the streets of the old town. We stopped outside a small door in an alley.

“This is where Fredrik Fredman was born” Fager said.  “He was a librarian like you and in charge of cataloguing the books taken from Prague during the reign of Queen Christina”

“But he´s fictional! Bellman made him up”

“I think he would be a bit annoyed if you told that to his face” Fager said smiling at me.

“You’re talking about him as he was alive. IF he was alive he would be like 400 years old.”

I was annoyed now and it felt like Fager was taking the piss. I came to Stockholm for at quiet chat about books and Lovecraft and he was rambling on about fictional characters walking the streets. The rain had intensified. I could see German tourist giving us strange glances as we stood outside the small door screaming at each other as the rain poured down.

I was just about to walk away in anger when I heard a loud voice. A young asian woman was striding towards us. Her eyes black with anger and a scowl on her lips. She came up to Fager and poked a finger in his chest while letting out a stream of what I believe were curses in Cantonese. Fager replied in the same language and it seemed like they had reached some kind of stalemate. As they stared each other down I had a good look at the woman. She looked like she was 25 and very attractive. The most striking thing was a tattoo of a tentacle stretching from her cleavage to her right cheek. It had the same lifelike quality as Fagers tattoo on his hand.

The couple argued a bit more in Cantonese and then seemed to find an agreement. They kissed and Fager turned to me and said “I have to go but I hope you are pleased with the interview. I´ll email you if you have any further questions”

They then strolled away and left me standing in the rain with a lot of questions on my mind. I took the train back home and in the end I never published the interview on the blog. It was all too strange and bewildering for me. I ignored Fager on facebook but I still get disturbing emails from him. Sometimes its pictures of dead animals, sometimes long messages in what I think are Assyrian. When he writes in Swedish  the message is unclear but he talks a lot about “The Master Plan”. Frankly he scares me a bit.

This text have been deposited with a friend and he has instructions to forward it to the police should anything happen to me.

Tidningens hemsida: http://www.freewebs.com/batglynn/cyaegha.htm

//Stefan

Samlade svenska kulter – Anders Fager

Det är lite underligt att så få svenska skräckförfattare använt Cthulhu-mytologin i sina berättelser. På rak arm kan jag bara komma på antologin Necronomicon i Sverige från Aleph förlag där Lovecraft varit en uttalad källa innan Andreas Fager publicerade Svenska kulter 2009. Jag gissar att den aningens torra titeln anspelar på den infama Unaussprechlichen kulten av Friedrich Wilheim von Juntz (Düsseldorf 1839). Som Lovecraft-nörd var jag ju illa tvungen att läsa boken insåg jag efter att ha läst några recensioner. Jag blev inte besviken, inte det minsta. Debuten innehåller ett par av de bästa svenska skräcknoveller jag läst. Jag minns fortfarande det obehag jag kände när jag läste den hypnotiska Mormors resa första gången. Det är som att läsa en mardröm sa jag till min sambo.

Jag ska erkänna att jag kliade i mig i huvudet en smula när jag läste att Fager skulle ge ut debutboken en gång till i en utökad volym. Lite onödigt tyckte jag. Nu när jag läst Samlade svenska kulter inser jag att det inte alls är onödigt. Boken behöver alla novellerna från den första för överhuvudtaget fungera. Halvvägs in i bokens andra del insåg jag att det inte är en novellsamling jag läser, det är en roman. Visst funkar de enskilda berättelserna som noveller men helheten är större än delarna. Halvvägs in börjar nämligen de olika berättelserna haka i varandra. Karaktärer och händelser återkommer och man inser att Fager skapat en helt egen värld som han delger läsaren fragment för fragment. Han tecknar ett Sverige bedrägligt likt vårt egen men med en mörk underström. Hemliga sällskap dyrkar mörka gudar från urtiden. Odödliga vandrar på Stockholms gator, i skärgården finns kolonier av fiskmänniskor och på en mosse utanför Borås sliter unga flickor sina offer i stycken till Shub-Nigguraths ära. Stilen är intressant då han blandar diskbänksrealism med splatterpunk och surrealism. Influenserna från Lovecraft är såklart tydliga men han hemfaller aldrig till pastisch vilket är skönt. Lovecraft-pastischer har jag läst nog av i mina dagar. Han tar helt enkelt mythos-materialet och gör till sitt eget.

Ju fler pusselbitar Fager delar med sig desto djupare dras man in i den större berättelsen. I normala fall brukar jag dra ut läsandet av novellsamlingar över ett par veckor. Jag tar en novell här och där ungefär som smågodis. I det här fallet funkade det inte utan jag var tvungen att begrava mig i boken och läsa den som en roman. När jag väl läst ut den la jag mig den ifrån mig med sorg i hjärtat. Jag vill ju ha mer! Det finns så mycket antytt, så mycket mellan raderna som jag vill veta mer om. Jag skulle lätt ha kunnat läsa 550 sidor till om det innebar att jag fick tillbringa mer tid i den värld Andres Fager har skapat. Jag vill veta mer om Skarvfolket. Jag vill ha hela Fredmans historia och jag vill veta om Strindberg verkligen är död. Jag hoppas verkligen att vi kommer få fler installationer i den Fagerska världsbilden.

Funkar alla noveller då? Nja. Om boken har en svaghet så ligger det i att ett par av berättelserna inte riktigt fångar eller skrämmer. Å andra sidan kan jag inte komma på någon novellsamling som varit 100%-ig i alla sina beståndsdelar. Helhetsintrycket är storartat och ni gör bäst i att strunta i de jämförelser med John Ajvide Lindqvist som ofelbart kommer komma. Fagers röst och stil är hans egen och unik i Sverige.

*Trivia: Anders Fager skrev det klassiska Drakar & Demoner äventyret Spindelkonungens pyramid. Det har inte ett skit med den här boken att göra men jag tycker det är coolt.

4/5

//Stefan