Dorthe Nors follows up her acclaimed story collection Karate Chop with a pair of novellas that playfully chart the aftermath of two very twenty-first-century romances. In "Days," a woman in her late thirties records her life in a series of lists, giving shape to the tumult of her days--one moment she is eating an apple, the next she is on the floor, howling like a dog. As the details accumulate, we experience with her the full range of emotions: anger, loneliness, regret, pain, and also joy, as the lists become a way to understand, connect to, and rebuild her life.
In "Minna Needs Rehearsal Space," a novella told in headlines, an avant-garde musician is dumped via text message. Fleeing the indignity of the breakup and friends who flaunt their achievements in life, career, and family, Minna unfriends people on Facebook, listens to Bach, and reads Ingmar Bergman, then decamps to an island near Sweden, "well suited to mental catharsis." A cheeky nod to the listicles and bulletins we scroll through on a daily basis, So Much for That Winter explores how we shape and understand experience, and the disconnection and dislocation that define our twenty-first-century lives, with Nors's unique wit and humor.
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So Much for That Winter
By Dorthe Nors, Misha Hoekstra
Graywolf PressCopyright © 2013 Dorthe Nors & Rosinante &Co., Copenhagen
All rights reserved.
Minna Needs Rehearsal Space
Minna introduces herself.
Minna is on Facebook.
Minna isn't a day over forty.
Minna is a composer.
Minna can play four instruments.
Minna's lost her rehearsal space.
Minna lives in Amager.
Minna spends her days in the Royal Library.
Minna has to work without noise.
Minna's working on a paper sonata.
The paper sonata consists of tonal rows.
Minna writes soundless music.
Minna is a tad avant-garde.
Minna has a tough time explaining the idea to people.
Minna wants to have sound with the music — no,
Minna just wants to have sound.
Minna wants to have Lars.
Minna's in love with Lars.
Lars used to really like Minna.
Minna doesn't dare launch the relationship app.
Lars has a full beard.
Lars has light-colored curls.
Lars works for the paper.
Lars is a network person.
Lars is Lars, Minna thinks, fumbling with the duvet cover.
Lars has left again.
Lars is always in a hurry to get out of bed.
The bed is a snug nest.
Minna's lying in it, but
Lars is on his bike and gone.
Lars bikes as hard as he can in the direction of City Hall Square.
Lars makes the pigeons rise.
Lars has deadlines.
Minna has an itch on her face.
Minna goes out to the bathroom to check.
Lars has kissed her.
Minna doesn't look like who she looked like when she made the spaghetti last night.
Minna looks like someone who drank all the wine herself.
Minna walks around in bare feet.
The apartment is full of notes.
Bach stands in the window.
Brahms stands on the coffee table.
The apartment's too small for a piano, but
A woman should have room for a flute.
A woman should have room for a flute, a triangle, and a guitar.
Minna takes out the guitar.
Minna plays something baroque.
Minna plays as quietly as possible.
The neighbor bangs on the wall with his sandals.
Minna needs a rehearsal space.
Minna needs security in her existence.
Minna misses the volume.
Minna misses a healthier alternative.
Minna wants to devote herself to ecology.
Minna wants to involve a kid in it.
Minna wants to try to be just like the rest.
Lars ought to help her but
Lars uses condoms.
Lars is on his bike and gone.
Lars is Lars.
* * *
Minna calls Lars.
Minna calls Lars until he picks up the phone.
Minna and Lars have discussed this before.
Lars has a cousin.
The cousin's name is Tim.
Tim knows of a rehearsal space in Kastrup.
The rehearsal space is close to the airport.
The rehearsal space is cheap.
Minna's never met Tim.
Minna is in many ways desperate.
Minna says, I can't go on being quiet.
Minna says, I've got to be able to turn myself up and down.
Minna says, Let's bike out to the rehearsal space.
Lars doesn't want to.
Lars is a culture reporter.
Lars and Minna met at a reception.
Lars introduced himself with his full name.
Minna could see that he knew everyone.
Minna could see that he would like to know everyone, but
Lars doesn't traffic in favors.
Favors are for politicians, he says.
Minna says, But it's just a rehearsal space.
Lars says, One day it's rehearsal space, the next. The conversation goes on like that.
Lars relents, but only a little.
Lars says that he can call up Tim.
Minna waits by the phone.
Minna changes an A string.
Minna drinks her coffee.
The phone doesn't ring.
Minna goes for a walk.
The phone doesn't ring.
The phone is dead.
Minna checks the SIM card.
The SIM card is working.
Amager Strandpark is shrouded in sea fog.
Amager Strandpark is full of architect-designed bunkers.
Amager Strandpark wants to look like Husby Dunes.
Husby Dunes used to be part of the Atlantic Wall.
Husby Dunes used to be a war zone.
Amager Strandpark makes itself pretty with a tragic backdrop.
Minna doesn't like Amager Strandpark.
Minna really likes the Sound.
Minna loves the sea, the gulls, the salt.
Minna is a bit of a water person, and now her pocket beeps.
Minna looks at her cell phone.
Lars has sent a text.
Tim's on Bornholm, it says.
Minna was prepared for something like that, but
Minna wasn't prepared for what comes next:
Lars writes, I think we should stop seeing each other.
Minna reads it again, but that's what it says.
Lars is breaking up via text.
Minna cannot breathe.
Minna has to sit down on an artificial dune.
Minna writes, Now I don't understand.
Minna calls on the phone.
There's no signal.
Minna waits for an answer.
The cell is dead, and so she sits there:
Amager Strandpark is Husby Dunes meets Omaha Beach.
Amager Strandpark is full of savage dogs trying to flush something out.
Amager Strandpark is a battlefield of wounded women.
* * *
Minna has gotten Lars to elaborate on his text.
Lars wrote, But I'm not really in love with you.
Lars has always understood how to cut to the chase.
Minna can't wring any more out of him.
Lars is a wall.
Lars is a porcupine.
Minna lies in bed.
The bed is the only place she wants to lie.
Minna hates that he began the sentence with But.
Minna feels that there was a lot missing before But, but
Minna should have apparently known better.
Men are also lucky that they possess the sperm.
Men can go far with the sperm.
Men with full sacks play hard to get.
Men with full sacks turn tail, but
Minna can manage without them.
Minna is a composer.
Minna feels her larynx.
The larynx isn't willing.
Minna can hear her neighbor come home.
Minna places an ear against the wall.
The neighbor dumps his groceries on the table.
The neighbor takes a leak.
Minna puts Bach on the stereo.
Minna turns up Bach.
The neighbor is there instantly.
Bach's cello suites are playing.
Minna's fingers are deep in the wound.
Minna looks at the portrait of Lars.
The portrait is from the paper.
Lars is good at growing a beard.
Lars sits there with his beard.
Lars's mouth is a soft wet brushstroke.
Chest hair forces his T-shirt upward.
The beard wanders downward away from his chin.
An Adam's apple lies in the middle of the hair.
Minna has had it in her mouth.
Minna has tasted it.
Minna has submitted, but
Lars looks out at someone who isn't her.
Lars regards his reader.
It isn't her.
Minna is tormenting herself.
Minna feels that Lars is a hit-and-run driver.
The hit-and-run driver has suffered at most a dented fender.
Minna savors her injuries.
Her heart is spot bleeding.
Her mouth stands agape.
Minna comforts herself.
Minna has the music, after all.
No one can take the music from her.
The music is an existential lifeline.
Minna would just rather have a child.
Minna ought to be glad for what she's got.
Minna would just rather have a child.
Once upon a time, composers were sufficient unto themselves.
Composers didn't need to have kids.
The tendency has changed:
Minna should take it upon herself to have a child.
Minna looks at the bookcase.
Minna grabs the first book under B.
Ingmar Bergman opens up for her.
Bergman's wearing the beret.
Bergman's gaze peers deep into Minna.
Bergman wants to get in under Minna's persona.
Minna's persona attempts to make way for him.
Minna wants Bergman all the way inside.
The neighbor thumps.
Minna keeps all superfluous organs to the side.
Bergman says, I am drilling, but.
Either the drill breaks, or else I don't dare drill deeply enough.
Minna's managed the impossible:
Bergman can't find the woman in Minna.
The mother won't turn up.
The mother, the whore, the witch.
Minna lifts up her blouse a little.
Bergman shakes his head.
Minna stuffs him up under the blouse.
Bergman doesn't protest.
Bergman makes himself comfortable.
Bergman whispers sweet words to her.
Bergman's words don't work.
Minna's lower lip quivers.
Minna whispers, I used to sing.
* * *
Minna hasn't been out of her apartment in three days.
Minna has sent a lot of texts.
Minna has asked Lars to tell her what was supposed to be in front of But.
Lars doesn't reply.
Lars won't budge an inch.
Lars was otherwise so mellow.
Minna recalls when they last saw each other.
Minna and Lars lay in bed.
Minna stroked his beard.
Minna read and interpreted.
Lars just needs time.
Minna decides to send Lars an email.
Minna writes, I think we should meet and talk about it.
Minna writes, We can always of course befriends.
Minna writes, I miss you so.
It's wrong to write that, yet she's written it regardless.
It thunders through the ether.
The email's directional.
The rehearsal space is gone.
Tim's on Bornholm.
Minna's got no money.
Minna's got no boyfriend.
Minna's only got herself, and now she's going out.
Minna goes down the stairs.
Minna goes down to her bike.
The bike stands in the backyard.
The backyard amplifies all sound.
The neighbors' orgasms, the magpies, the pigeons dominate.
Minna puts on her bike helmet.
Minna bikes onto Amagerbrogade.
Minna walks through the revolving doors into the Royal Library.
Minna wants to concentrate.
The young female students are wearing high heels.
The heels bang against the floor.
Minna despises the students' high heels.
Minna despises their catwalk character.
Minna doesn't think they've studied what they ought to.
Minna fiddles with her sonata.
Minna removes long hairs from her blouse.
Minna waits for news from Lars.
Karin's sent her an email.
Karin sends lots of emails every day.
Karin's emails are long.
Karin tells about her life in the country.
Minna's with her in the bedroom.
Minna's with her at handball in the gym.
Minna isn't shielded from anything.
Karin uses Minna as a diary.
Karin's everyday life will take over Minna's.
Minna makes a rare quick decision.
Minna writes, Dear Karin.
It's not you.
Minna breaks up with Karin.
All things must have an end.
A worm has two.
Minna doesn't write the last bit.
One shouldn't hurt others unnecessarily.
One should above all be kind.
Minna would rather not be anything but.
Minna's hardly anything but.
The email thunders through the ether toward Karin.
That's as it should be, thinks Minna.
The ether is full of malicious messages.
The ether hums with breakups and loss.
The ether is knives being thrown.
The ether is blood surging back.
Minna has wounded a creature.
Minna stares out on the canal.
Minna listens to the banging heels.
Minna needs to go to the bathroom.
* * *
Minna's back in her place.
Minna sits and feels the pain.
The pain's a contagion.
The borders recede.
Minna's snuck Bergman out of her bag.
Minna's got to concentrate.
Someone waves from behind the panoramic glass.
Jette's standing with a bakery bag.
Coffee's to be drunk on the quay.
Jette's a classically trained harpist.
Jette's given up finding rehearsal space.
The harp's stood in her way her entire life.
Minna knows the feeling.
Minna's had the same experience with grand pianos, but
Grand pianos grow on trees.
Harps are exclusive.
Harps are for fairies, angels, and the frigid.
Jette calls her boyfriends lovers.
Jette's boyfriends are married to other women.
Jette's studying composition in Reading Room North.
Minna writes paper sonatas in Reading Room East.
Minna and Jette drink coffee together.
The relationship isn't supposed to get serious.
Jette talks too much about bodies.
Jette has an IUD in her genital tract.
Jette has discharges and domestic obligations.
Jette needs a weekend escape with a lover.
Jette fears vaginal dryness.
The uterus is an abandoned studio apartment.
The vagina's the gateway to the enjoyment of all things.
Jette says, Don't you agree?
Minna says, Isn't that a balloon?
Minna points to a spot above the harbor.
Jette's content with the two kids she has.
Enough's enough, says Jette.
Jette has two kids, thinks Minna.
Minna has a hard time getting up from the quay.
Minna feels like a horse.
Minna says, I think it was Bugs Bunny.
Jette goes through the door into the Royal Library.
Minna stands there like a fly in the ointment, and then she has to pee.
Minna has to really pee, and it has to happen fast.
* * *
Minna has to go to the john twice a day on average when she works at the Royal Library.
Minna fills her water bottle from the tap.
Minna leaves the john.
Minna's surrounded by a couple hundred police officers in mufti.
The officers are with the Danish National Police.
The officers stand at attention in the buffet area.
The officers are at a conference in the Karen Blixen Meeting Room.
Minna watches the deputy commissioner eat a fish roll.
Minna slopes through the crowd.
Minna is a relic.
Minna spools up across two hundred officers.
Minna towers over four hundred sperm-filled sacs.
The officers' laughter bursts through the room.
Jens Peter Jacobsen shudders.
Hans Christian Andersen ditto.
Yard upon yard of shelving turns its back.
Minna writes tonal rows.
Minna works like a horse.
Minna heaves the tones around on the paper.
Minna clears her throat.
Minna clears her throat a little more.
The girl to her left shushes her.
Minna packs up and rides downstairs.
Minna enters the revolving doors from one side.
A police officer enters from the other.
Minna revolves around with the officer.
Minna is walking and going round.
The revolving door mechanism feels defective.
The officer gets his foot caught.
The revolving door stops heavily.
The revolving door spits Minna out like a clay pigeon.
Iceland Wharf lies far beneath Minna.
Iceland Wharf shines flat and practical.
Minna sees far beneath her the mermaid on the quay.
Minna looks out across the city.
Minna's in flight over Copenhagen.
Minna's an instance of female buoyancy and helium.
* * *
Lars is as silent as the grave, but
Karin's answered quickly.
Minna's seated herself in her kitchen at home.
Minna doesn't dare open the email from Karin.
Karin plays accordion.
Minna and Karin took a class together.
Karin latched onto Minna.
Minna is somewhat of a host species.
Minna has now finally told Karin to stop.
The decision's good enough.
The decision was just made too late.
Karin feels bad now.
Karin's self-worth has been damaged.
Karin's self-worth is Jutlandic.
Karin brags about motocross, sex, and pork sausage.
Karin's married to a farmer.
The farmer's bought up the parish.
The parish belongs to Karin.
Karin drinks tall boys.
Karin plays folk dances.
Karin's on the gym board.
Karin sticks her hand all the way up her neighbor.
Karin grasps the inner udder.
Karin pinches and squeezes.
The teat yields.
The teat's tugged long and white.
The teat grows tender and stiff.
The teat grows so tired in the end.
Minna also wrote her, Now relax, but
Karin doesn't need to restrain herself:
Karin goes to zumba.
Minna was right to break up with her.
A person ought to defend herself.
Minna opens the email from Karin.
Karin writes nasty things about Minna.
Minna can't for example land a man.
Men don't want women like Minna.
Age will drag you down!!! Karin writes.
Barrenness will haunt you!!! Karin writes, and continues:
Minna doesn't know how to live.
Minna only knows how to think.
Karin's got everything that Minna wants.
Karin's got a dog, a man, and kids.
Karin's got five hundred acres of land.
Minna's got zilch.
Minna's lonely, a failure, and deserves to be pissed on.
Minna thinks that should suffice.
People are getting worse and worse.
Middle fingers poke out of car windows.
Small dogs shit before her entry.
Young men shout whore.
The three Billy Goats Gruff play havoc in nice folks' sunrooms.
People's faces look kind.
People's faces aren't kind.
Minna wants to reply.
Minna wants to write nasty things too, but
Minna thinks enough's enough.
Minna longs for shut traps.
Minna longs for stillness and beauty.
Minna seats herself by the window.
Minna looks down on the street.
Minna watches a small dog gently squeeze out a turd up onto the curbstone.
* * *
Night has descended on Amager.
Denmark is laid in darkness.
The Sound flows softly.
The planes take off and land.
Lars was in the dream.
Minna and Lars were at the beach.
Minna was buried with just her head free.
The sea was rough at the foot of the dune.
The sea raged, foaming white.
Dad stood in the breakers and waved.
Minna wanted to grab Lars in her haste.
Minna wriggled her arms.
The arms wouldn't budge.
Lars pelted her with sand.
Lars patted her hard with a shovel.
Lars poured water over her.
Lars used her to build a sand castle.
The wave reached land.
The wave reached land and trickled slowly.
The beads of gravel rattled.
Minna turned on the light and now it is quiet.
Amager steams with rain.
The rain refracts off the manholes.
Minna never bakes cake.
Minna gets up to bake a cake.
Minna bakes a cake in the middle of the night.
Cake is the opiate of the people.
Excerpted from So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors, Misha Hoekstra. Copyright © 2013 Dorthe Nors & Rosinante &Co., Copenhagen. Excerpted by permission of Graywolf Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsMinna Needs Rehearsal Space,