Manga by the Shore

I think I promised, some time ago, not to share any more Edmund Ek-related gossip. This is a centre of serious debate, not a cattle-market of cheap lies. I will not be sullied by the sordid stains of hand-me-down anecdotes. Frippery has never been my middle-name.

You can’t say it isn’t interesting, however, to see Ek being used in this way. Gossip it is, gossip it shall always be: nevertheless, this is gossip about a little-known Norwegian novelist – not your usual talent-less, snout-faced, sparkly-eyed, nasal-hair-trimmed, plastic-nippled, brow-sculptured, soul-sucked, sweet-besuited, flat-bellied celebrity. And that, I think, amounts to something. Literature in the public eye? Well, not quite. What interests people about Ek is not just his way with words. But words are at least involved. Literature is in the corner of the public eye – and one can’t ask for more than that.

For what it’s worth, then, here is the latest on the ongoing saga of Edmund Ek (see here for past updates). Ek is still ensconced in the Norwegian wilderness, still accompanied by a cat named after his ex-wife and still eating a large amount of eggs. He is still hard at work on a piece he calls Apologia – which started as a novel, became a treatise, an epic poem, a series of sonnets, a novel again, and now, according to ‘a source close to the artist’, ‘a Buddhist manga’.

Though this represents the most important development, let us gloss over it for now. By the time we have all worked out what ‘Buddhist manga’ is, Ek will probably have moved onto another form. What should interest us more, I think, is the appearance of that ever-so-common phrase: ‘a source close to the artist’. Remember, after all, that Ek is in the wilderness, away from all signs of human life. He has no telephone, he does not write. Journalists have tracked him down, but he will not speak to them (indeed, he tried to shoot one of them). Who, then, is this source?

All evidence points to Heidi, the cat. Of course! You never can trust a cat, especially not one named after an old flame. Heidi is clearly sneaking out of Ek’s mountain residence at night and selling scoops for sardines. It’s all so obvious…

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