Honest about Boat Building

The saga of Edmund the Honest (aka Edmund ‘Blumin’ Ek) continues. Now one of Norway’s most middling investigative journalists – a fellow named Fredrik Ruud – has tracked him down and followed him around, from a safe distance, to ensure that he is sticking to his principles.

The shocking results? Well, it depends on whether you ever believed that Ek was serious about tossing modern pleasures aside and living a life of charming simplicity in the mountains, with only a white cat for company. I, for one, was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt – and as things stand, it seems that I was right. It’s only early days, of course, but during a week of watching from afar Ruud saw nothing to contradict Edmund’s original vision. Edmund the Honest is living up to his name. The games consoles have gone – and in their place the fishing rods, rakes, hammers, lathes, hoes, hacksaws and various boat building materials have appeared. What’s more, Edmund the Honest will not be writing his next work on a computer, but on paper. Remember that stuff? Incredible…

Far from giving him credit for his refreshing determination, Fredrik Ruud remains doubtful that this represents a good move for the bad boy of contemporary Norwegian literature. ‘So what if he’s actually doing it,’ Ruud writes, ‘when the truth is that it can only have a detrimental effect on his writing’. He goes on: ‘if his forthcoming Apologia doesn’t turn to be the most  tedious piece of writing to have ever been penned, I will be highly surprised. What will become of the bouncy junkyard sparkle of Edmund’s prose? I’ll tell you what. It will be suffocated by a giant fluffy pillow of piousness.’

Clearly Ruud is unaware of the fact that the ‘bouncy junkyard sparkle of Edmund’s prose’ has already run its course – and has been in serious need of an update for some years now. Still, not all of his points are bereft of interest, bringing us back to some very old questions, accompanied by a salivating pack of ravenous and lingering doubts. What if Edmund the Honest begins to enjoy the ‘simple life’ too much? What if he stops writing? Is his happiness the most important thing, or is the most important thing the work he is creating, which may in turn cause us to be happy? If his misery makes more than one person happy, is it thus a good thing? Should we be praying for a very cold winter to hit his mountain, and push him a little closer to the edge; the dangerously beautiful, ever-creative edge?

There are many more questions where that lot came from. But there’s no reason to over-indulge. So let me conclude. The bottom line, so far as I am concerned is this: regardless of its quality, I can’t see myself not enjoying Edmund the Honest’s Apologia when it comes. The circumstances surrounding its creation are already interesting enough to lend it a meaning of its own. Whether this is a good thing, or a bad thing, is up to your personal preference. The fact remains: the book will be interesting, whatever form it takes.

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