Ineffective and unfruitful writing of old age

By the end of Torgny Lindgren’s Hash the “former writer” is set to enjoy a much-improved old age.  The map he drew for Linda has led her to gold in Aveberg mountain, and her chauffeur-driven Bentley is taking him from Sunnybank Rest Home to a place where “first and foremost he would be able to drink and above all eat just what his heart most yearned for.”

As well as drawing the fateful map, he had been writing the story of the journeys made by Lars Högström and Robert Maser (possibly the fugitive Nazi Martin Bormann) in a quest to discover all the different versions of Swedish hash, a dish made with all sorts of animal parts and other esoteric ingredients. He is eventually forbidden to write any more by the Leader of the Council responsible for the home. This administrator had “explored the possibilities of rendering his writing income generating in some way, but without success.”

The publisher expressed his thanks for the letter and the offer. Publishing was a difficult and often loss-making enterprise, subject to laws and demands of the market. The sort of material that justified the cost of printing was that which had a broad appeal to the reading public. Right now there was a demand for books by very young authors with diverse and unusual experience of life in the big cities. They already had writers of advanced years on their list, even from Norrland, and as the person responsible for their publishing program he had had enough, more than enough, of the ineffective and unfruitful, at times even nihilistic, writing of old age.”

But the publisher points to a possible alternative: that “the Council itself take on the printing of the work of this obviously manically productive old man. There might well be a subsidy available from the EU in Brussels that would offset some of their losses.

The writer knew where to find gold but the publisher didn’t realize it.

Torgny Lindgren, Hash, 2002


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