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A Lesser Day

Radio interview with Joachim Scholl at Deutschlandfunk Kultur

(in German language)

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Scholl: Sie haben, wie ich finde, eine ganz intensive Sprache gefunden. Ich lese mal einen Satz vor, es ist mein Lieblingssatz. Da erklärt die Erzählerin, dass ihr Hund davongelaufen ist. Sie sucht ihn, findet ihn nicht, kommt dann mit einem anderen, der ihr zuläuft, wieder nach Hause. Und dann heißt es, Zitat: “Und so waren wir heimgekehrt mit einem Hund, einem nassen, hungrigen kleinen Hund, der mit einem tiefen, erschöpften Seufzer in meinen Armen zusammenbrach, als ich sein klatschnasses Fell mit dem Handtuch trocknete.” Ich weiß jetzt nicht, ob es daran liegt, dass ich mit jedem Jahr sentimentaler werde, aber ich habe so entzückt und tief geseufzt, als ich diesen Satz sah, diesen wunderschönen Satz. Ich habe mich gefragt, wie haben Sie diese Sprache gefunden?

Scrima: Das kann ich nicht beantworten. Man schreibt nicht mit einer Schreibstrategie im Hinterkopf. Ich glaube, es geht vielmehr darum, dass man versucht, den Zugang zu sich selbst möglichst intensiv zu ermöglichen. Und ich kann das selbst nicht unbedingt sagen, wie ich das gemacht habe. Das ist für jeden anders. Für jedes Buch ist es anders. Ich arbeite noch an einem Roman, der mir das Leben sehr schwer macht.

Scholl: Sprachlich kann ich mir das nicht vorstellen bei Ihnen, Frau Scrima. Vorhin sagten Sie kurz, dass Sie das Buch geschrieben haben, als Sie Ihr Baby gerade hatten. An einer Stelle, glaube ich, zieht das Baby unterm Tisch den Stecker aus dem Computer, und dann schreibt sie “Alles ist verloren”. Da dachte ich, ist das hoffentlich erfunden, oder war das so?

Scrima: Das ist sozusagen die Metapher für die Mutterschaft in den ersten paar Jahren. Wie das Kind einem immer einen Strich durch die Rechnung macht. Das ist in erster Linie auch als Metapher zu verstehen.

I’m reading tomorrow evening from the German and English editions of my book Wie viele Tage (Literaturverlag DROSCHL) / A Lesser Day (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing) at Buchlounge Zehlendorf, Clayallee 343, at 8 pm. Here’s a radio broadcast the wonderful Michaela Gericke did with me a week or two ago in the studio for RBB Kulturradio (in German).

Listen here: 

 

And the drawings we talk about in the beginning can be seen here. 

 

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Wonderful to be accompanied by the ever-perceptive and inspiring Madeleine LaRue of Music & Literature on the rooftop of The Circus Hotel in Berlin-Mitte. 

Here is the interview LaRue did with me for Music & Literature

Patterns of Erosion: A Conversation with Andrea Scrima

Circus with Maddy

“She sees a slip of paper lying on the street at the point of projected convergence, and she picks it up with a feeling that retrieving it is somehow necessary and crucial. That’s a key passage in the book, and it comes close to describing a relationship to meaning, in the way that you’re living in an insentient world, in a world of natural phenomena, man-made phenomena, trains and buses and buildings and streets, yet things are constantly happening that can suddenly seem to be saying something to you. The phrase I use in the book is ‘a language of happenstance […] in the din of occurrence.’ Searching for meaning in these chance occurrences—the superstitious see signs in coincidences, but you could also think of them as constituting a kind of language. But whose, and to what purpose? At the moment I’m reading Esther Kinsky’s Hain, a beautiful book that she’s called a Geländeroman—how would you translate that into English?—it’s not nature writing, but a meditative description of outdoor spaces that could be called wasteland or fallow land, something in between city or village and rural. Basically, the premise of the book—although I’m sure Kinsky’s intentions are more complex—is to reflect consciousness in the process of observation. Kinsky’s narrator studies a landscape that’s transitioning into a kind of poorly defined, semi-urban space—it’s a landscape, but it’s not idyllic: there’ll be a dump somewhere, or something broken down and very ugly. And through this description process, through this unbelievably painstaking, precise description that consists of the quietest, most strikingly poetic details, she reflects and clarifies her thought process, her process of remembering. There’s a passage mid-way in the book in which she actually begins speaking of a grammar in the landscape: a slash, a comma, a sentence answered by another sentence; birds as a flurry of punctuation marks. It’s extraordinary..”

“When a person lives between two continents, two apartments, the transience of things becomes even more urgent. It’s a question that seems to haunt Andrea Scrima. Again and again, the objects that surround her are brought into sharp focus: objects that need to be packed, stored, and transported in moving boxes; objects the sheer force of human presence suffuses with meaning. Incessantly, the self attempts to catch hold of individual situations and moments in time, zooms in on them with an almost uncanny precision of perception to salvage them from the obscurity of the past and the unarticulated and to shed light on them. Not glaringly, but tenuously, with caution.”

— Bettina Schulte, Badische Zeitung, 17. Mai 2018

Read the article here.

 

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It’s not we who remember places; it’s they that remember us. They’re the ones that no longer let go, and sometimes we can retrieve them in the crypt of memories—as Andrea Scrima has done in her sensitively written novel “Wie Viele Tage”.

Nearly every section […] begins with an address: Bedford Avenue, Kent Avenue, Ninth Street, Eisenbahnstrasse, Fidicinstrasse. These are the streets where the artist and writer lived in the eighties and nineties; here are the apartments where recollections of times, emotions, states of mind have embedded themselves. And even if the locations and faces are in danger of disappearing, even if they sink a bit deeper each year into the memory crypt, some part of the self nonetheless remains. We don’t just remember places. We seem, in a kind of magical thinking, to inscribe ourselves into these places. They are the ones that no longer let go.

— Ulrich Rüdenauer, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 3. Mai 2018

 

Read the full article here. 

 

Süddeutsche clip

PATTERNS OF EROSION: 

A Conversation with Andrea Scrima on A Lesser Day and the new German edition, Wie viele Tage. 

“She sees a slip of paper lying on the street at the point of projected convergence, and she picks it up with a feeling that retrieving it is somehow necessary and crucial. That’s a key passage in the book, and it comes close to describing a relationship to meaning, in the way that you’re living in an insentient world, in a world of natural phenomena, man-made phenomena, trains and buses and buildings and streets, yet things are constantly happening that can suddenly seem to be saying something to you. The phrase I use in the book is ‘a language of happenstance […] in the din of occurrence.’ Searching for meaning in these chance occurrences—the superstitious see signs in coincidences, but you could also think of them as constituting a kind of language. But whose, and to what purpose?”

Read the full interview online here

M&Lcover