The Last Short StoryBy Edy Poppy
February 24, 2022
translated from the Norwegian by May-Brit Akerholt
I know you’re waiting for my last short story but, unfortunately, I have to disappoint you. It’s taken me more than five years to write this collection, but now that it’s soon finished, I’m wondering if I should throw this shit in the bin and start something new. A novel.
I feel I haven’t been honest enough in my short stories. Not courageous enough either. I’ve tried to write about people coming apart in all sorts of different ways, a kind or encyclopaedia of misery, if you like. But I’ve just touched the surface, without ever really meeting my own gaze, or the gaze of the reader, for that matter. I’ve seen myself crying in the mirror. I thought it was genuine. That it was literature.
“The truth is just a seed from which fiction can grow,” I’ve told journalists. Or, “Only through lies can you reach the truth.” It’s just a conceit, all of it. I’ve hidden behind the language, behind lovely formulations. Now I’m longing for an ugly, unpretentious form of writing. Sentences you don’t know how to adhere to.
When I wrote Anatomy. Monotony., I wanted Ragnhild to be a sympathetic character, I wanted the reader to like her, because she represented me. Of course I gave her a few flaws, but I didn’t go far enough by a long shot. I was vain, chickened out. Now I want to write until I blush. Because I believe that’s where the most interesting writing, the most challenging formulations, are hiding; in the total degradation.
I don’t want to write about Ragnhild anymore. She doesn’t represent me any longer, perhaps she never has. Not to mention all the other characters in this collection of short stories. I want to call people by their proper names. I believe my writing needs it, this honesty, this resistance, this courage. I am Vår. Lou is Lou. Not Cyril, as he’s called in “Rain Divide.”
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at my old desk in my homestead in Bø. The drawers are full of archived feelings. One of them is called Lou and Oscar, Kyoto 2007. A few days ago, I opened the drawer and reread all the emails they sent me when I was in Japan. And that’s when it dawned on me how much more ruthless I am than Ragnhild. You can’t trust reality, they say. But I’m willing to take that risk.