The questions echo on long after the last page

Ulf Nilsson (1948−2021), children's book author, published and translated worldwide.  He was awarded, among other things, the August Prize and the Astrid Lindgren Prize.  Now his last book,
Ulf Nilsson (1948−2021), children’s book author, published and translated worldwide. He was awarded, among other things, the August Prize and the Astrid Lindgren Prize. Now his last book, “A little book about the art of dying”, is published.

“We got weird probably still relieved when we received the news that I have incurable cancer.”

It is undeniably an Ulf Nilsson-esque beginning to a book about him dying. I recognize it: someone starts bleeding in the wrong place for some unknown reason, receives a cancer diagnosis and thinks: Crap. I always knew there was something seriously wrong with me. Good good.

Ten weeks later, he has written a prose-lyrical book that you read with hindsight, so to speak.

I start to think on him as the Man behind death. Because every time you scroll, you get a little closer to him. Because every time you finish reading, he has passed away. “A small, small life in the hand. Suddenly gone, deep in the sand”, as the boy dictated in the picture book All dead small animalswhich done Ulf Nilsson famous for writing about difficult things for children.

The man behind the death is now dictating to himself: about having to prepare to die, can’t just keep meeting people and talking. Because who comforts who. Who are you crying for? It’s like when the guinea pig chews up a letter – like flakes, like snow – from someone who is grieving that he will die in Goodbye, Mr. Muffin. A wordy frustration can be sensed under the laconisms: Why should I die, now? A refusal to receive all the newly shocked, grieving. But what if it takes five years before he dies? He becomes a sham, a mock death. Or maybe he’s already buried, when people fall silent in respect.

The man behind death consoles himself, it’s nice to avoid ALS, for example, he is grateful for the fantastic care and thinks the media get the wrong picture. Disagree, although I understand, the world must be good for the survivors. He is about to be reconciled, until a newly shocked comes with his cry and he is thrown back a month.

Sidor rejects the reconciliation: “You can understand that I am going to die. But I cannot understand it.” And the awful mornings. The subtitles of those dreams that you don’t get to know what they are but which are the most terrifying thing he experiences. That’s what I think about the most, the unmentionable between the lines.

But then the Man behind death can fall in love with his wife. They take care of each other, speak out. Just like the rooster, the hare and herrings in death are cared for in a caring way by one who digs (the action-oriented Ester), one who cries (the little Putte who begins to understand) and one who writes poetry (the boy: the narrator).

Sometimes he forgets the whole thing, and is horrified when he realizes it. You yourself are horrified and realize that he is already dead. And you become a bit like the child who wants to talk extra long about the last page of the story, preferably also the last text-free picture on the inside of the cover, because then it’s time to sleep.

But there is it now completely white. As the boy dictated to a neckless rooster:

“Death comes suddenly at two o’clock.

Why? Why? Why?”

The questions echo further in A little book about the art of dying, but here is also someone who takes the spoon in a beautiful hand. It makes me cringe right away.

Source: Then24

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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