Just a few days left to claim your copy of Indiespensable #11, featuring our special edition of The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker (and three gorgeous scoutbooks with art by Nikki McClure). No pressure or anything. Just saying.
The novel's translator, David Colmer, was kind enough to translate a few clips from an interview that Bakker gave to Libelle magazine. Our thanks to Archipelago Books for generating this special content for Powell's readers.
[Editor's note: To see the complete contents of Indiespensable #11, read Kyle's How We Assembled note.]
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Writing is terribly difficult
Then I graduated — historical linguistics didn't lead anywhere of course — and started writing short stories. They were horribly bad. Extremely artificial. But when I started The Twin something else happened. I sat down and wrote the first sentence. Later that sentence ("I've put Father upstairs.") was praised by all kinds of critics, but it just rolled out. Tick-tick-tick and there it was one morning. Before that sentence was there, I had an idea. A son and a father. And the son does something terrible to the father. But then I was stuck. If I get an idea I usually let it develop and ferment and then I can start once it's become something substantial. But this time there was nothing. On that particular morning I was so fed up. I was very annoyed. That first sentence emerged from irritation. And then I had the tone of the whole book. It was a blessing. I didn't need to struggle anymore. I thought, Father upstairs. And a mother? No, she's dead. Then, Hey, a twin brother, that's fun. And a woman next door. Zip, zip, zip. The stock dealer showed up as I progressed, the tanker driver. The book gradually filled out. And that was how the story developed. I just had to fine-tune it here and there.
People think I'm Helmer
He's the main character of The Twin. They'll think I'll come stomping in wearing overalls and clogs. Helmer the farmer is a product of my imagination. Of course there are aspects of myself in him, but there are some in Helmer's father as well. There are women who want to marry me. They've fallen in love with Helmer the farmer. And then I come in for one of those readings as a fresh and fruity fellow and I see their disappointment.
Landscape and animals and nature
I have a deep love for natural things. They're real. Plants, grass and trees, the sky. It's real. Trams, cars and apartments are real too, but man-made. They're not essential. But still I live in the city. All of my friends are here. I can go to a movie or the ice rink. But one day I'll go back to the country. I'm sure of that. I belong in a field, next to a gate.I know a house in North Wales where I've been going for years. It's at the end of a muddy path and there's nothing else there. That's what I imagine. But I'm a bit scared of it as well. Of the overwhelming solitude. People think a longing for solitude is crazy. They say: "Oh no, it's so lonely." It's not allowed; it's out of the question. In this day and age you have to lead a full life, busy, busy, busy, with as many friends as possible. For me that's not pure. I notice it physically. If I'm inside, I often feel a physical urge to go outside. I don't want to be stuck inside with lots of people around me.
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Books mentioned in this post
Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State