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Book review: Jonas Karlsson watering a grumpy idealist

for a few dry, hot days of summer, when the air trembles, the shirts are sticking and the grass is threatening to catch fire, unfolds, the author and actor Jonas Karlsson's new novel. If you now call the it: the format is ”Regnmannen” as soon as a longer short story. The 256 pages trip pass quickly, and afterwards is gentle to the mind, albeit a tad unsatisfied.

Regnmannen in question is the retired theater director and änkemannen Ingmar. Just as Roland in ”I am a thief”, Karlsson's last book, he is something of a social archetype, a grumpy idealist who akterseglats of a society whose values changed over a night. Now he runs around in senkapitalismen and spend their days in the rose garden of his wife, Inger left behind.

Read the review of Jonas Karlsson's last novel.

in the garden is a reflection of life as it was. He's thinking about the aging process, the loss of Inger, and – in the book's most moving section, on the länsteater he ran in many years but was forced to leave in humiliating forms, in connection with a moralpanikskandal with respect to a set of ”Aniara”.

Ingmar loved the theatre. And in his own way he loves most, which is also a kind of regiarbete. In both cases it is about attracting that which slumbers in the material and to yourself be surprised by the beauty that occurs. Therefore, the garden to be a bit overgrown, ”He thought, not punish it. He would just help it along, with a light hand will lead it, assist it to find its own expression.”

But how to manage a garden when it refuses to rain, and when, moreover, there is bevattningsförbud? The solution will then Ingmar discovers that a rusty old faucet behind the house controls the rain. But because he wants to put his småborgerliga trädgårdsfascister to the neighbors on the spot leaks the secret will soon be out, and it won't be long until both kommunledning as international pressure to be drawn into the matter.

in a kind of ursvenskt feelgood-the idiom at the same time, is vaguely depressing. The character gallery consists of nothing but cartoons: the inbilske neighbor, the hunter kommuntjänstemännen, the successful but alienated läkarsonen. It is a little Lars Molin, a little bit of Stig Claesson, little Fredrik Backman – and, above all, very insightful. Bad? Not directly. Good? A matter of taste.

Myself, I wonder if not the summary is pretty unnecessary. Functional, perhaps, but trivial – and the text's heart is anyway in the relationship between Ingmar and his son Erik. Melancholy of to see his parents grow old, to slowly be a father to his own father, is depicted with a coy mercy that becomes extra apparent in the batches, where the Karlsson let Erik bring an action.

And Erik says: I don't care well the faucet! It is you, father, that is interesting; it is your longing, your pain, I want to hear about. As a reader, one can only agree with.

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