Where were we?
Friday October 3rd, the multiple trains to Graz. The hills at times look like visual puzzles; they’re covered in green curly heads masquerading as trees. And a river follows the tracks like a dolphin would follow a ship. The mountains, when actual mountains, look small and cuddly suddenly as the scale shifts to ”planet scale”.
We are in Austria. We are taking advantage of the restaurant car. We find our hotel and draw the lot of our rooms (more about this later).
But wait, the Zeitgeist has come loose and it’s looking for a vessel! Oh no, it’s in my stomach! (Pauliina signs off for 36 hours. Seven authors perform for Austrians.)
Sunday, the 5th of October; leaving Graz
5 a.m, I (Pauliina) wake up to the sound of rain coming in from the window, no, through the roof. Henriikka tells me to simply shut the window, but it’s not raining. Wet seams appear all over the ceiling and water seeps through, then it starts dripping from the ceiling lamp! I place buckets and towels on the floor, Henriikka calls the management, we sleep on. Above, our friends sleep as the water rises. A laptop floats on its absorbing second skin and survives. Absurdity has apparently blocked the pipes!
I’ve got my legs again. We enjoy bits of Graz such as breakfast, the Castle Hill, art museum and jogging river. There is the aftermath of a flood, which will last us for a conversation topic for quite a while.
But we move on. We fly to Berlin, where there are rooms waiting for us in Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, with a view through scaffolding towards Wannsee.
Monday, the 6th of October; Berlin
Anticipation grows: LCB is known for drawing a good crowd for readings. And our directors are in town. They’ll see the show and give feedback, and the degree of solidification of the individual performances into a whole will become visible to us. We build the stage and set everything ready and then disperse into the most spacious city in Europe.
The crowd is good. Some old friends to be seen: there’s David Wagner just a little bit late settling on the second row. Suvi Wartiovaara from Finnland Institut; Anne Mäkelä who swished back and forth with language when Henriikka and Kerstin Preiwuss translated each other for Verschmuggel. Very happy to perform for them and everyone else.
I can feel a slight disturbance in my concentration. Maybe it’s just having passed the midpoint, or the awareness of our keen-eyed directors, or maybe we’ve just come to set the standard high. The temperature of the portable stove still needs adjusting: this time, it starts out slow, hardly sizzling, but then the meat starts to cook with a sound that, amplified, resembles the ominous motor of Matti’s sound art for the dance. Lucky emergencies.
We do good, and hear appreciative voices afterwards. (Max Reinhardt Approved!) Akse and Ami gather us around and we talk (we’re even more hungry for talk with them than we are for the soup that is set up in the next room by our hosts). Valuable points and encouragement. Thank you Ami Karvonen and Akse Petterson, and thank you LCB!
Then everyone gets soup and wine. The night turns to morning. We drink and talk and oh, we understand everything.