Heidi Kohlenberg writes (referring to this review, posted a couple of days ago):
My dear old Georgy, There you go, thrusting your foot through the windows of opprobrium again. For once, however, I fancy that your glass-wreaking was unintended, foolish though it was. Perhaps all those mince pies have eaten through your brain again; dulling your critical senses. I spotted something wrong when you confessed that you had only read the book twice. Maybe this explains why the pleasure you seem to have taken seem is such a sweet and earnest one, weirdly untroubled by the murkiness that inevitably cowers within.
There is another factor. You know, my old friend, that I have for some time been contributing articles for ‘Majfisk’ – and thus far you have done well not to spill any envy on the carpet of our relationship. Not jealous that I have shirked your journal, for now, to peddle articles for a Swedish fishing magazine? Good on you Georgy. Nevertheless, I cannot help but notice that, although I have been told that you are a subscriber to said fishing rag, you appear reluctant to throw your line into the text (i.e. you don’t read the damn thing). How do I know this? Well, Georgy dear, if you had read (or got your wife to read) either of the last two issues of ‘Majfisk’, you could not fail to have noticed a slew of articles relating to Viktor Kesserman’s ‘horror tale’ – the very one which you so innocently dug into the other day.
In fact, I have written a word or two on the book myself. Most Scandinavian critics have. For as it happens Kesserman’s text is kicking up no end of dust over here. And why? I’ll tell you why. Because the book is, essentially, right-wing racist propaganda.
Does your jaw drop? Ah, but you seem to have hinted as much yourself. Your last paragraph says it all: “Kesserman does well to keep his readers tied into the plot, channeling the spirit of Ionesco to produce the kind of story for which the word ‘disquieting’ was invented. This is, in short, the sort of tale that tiptoes like a ballerina beneath one’s epidermis; silently worming its way into one’s mind..”
This, in short, is political propaganda at work. Two blond-haired Swedes are increasingly frightened by the appearance of black hairs? Georgy, sweet, you are living on the moon if you cannot see what is going on there. I hardly need to tell you that Kesserman doth not take a liberal approach to immigration laws. The only ‘horror’ in his story is the most distasteful horror there is: the horror of a couple of conservative nincompoops, faced with the glory of change.
For now, my friend, I will continue to blame your error on a surfeit of mince pies. In the future, however, I will probably be less kind. And in the meantime – well, I suggest you take to reading your old copies of ‘Majfisk’, lest you should slip on another skin and sink down, deep, where the trout don’t dare to swim.
My best wishes,
I think the letter speaks for itself, though I will take immediate exception to the line ‘perhaps all those mince pies have eaten through your brain again’. The ‘again’ suggests that this, if it ever happens, is a regular occurence – whereas, on the contrary, I am not the greatest mince pie fan (though the charms of this treat do, I confess, daily grow on me).
I might also add that Kohlenberg’s quoting of my last paragraph does not, I imagine, mean to suggest that Ionesco has any connection with political propaganda.
More on Majfisk here and, indeed, here.