… we finished taking down the wall between the kitchen and the living room. Just in time for the new year! Unfortunately I didn’t get to join in any of the fun parts: my main task was to keep Ingrid occupied and out of the way, so my contribution was limited to taking photos and helping to clean up the mess afterwards, for tearing down drywall creates an awful lot of gypsum dust.

I did nothing useful, again. But we did get a couple of experienced guys over here to look at our wall, and their verdict was that it was not load-bearing so it’s OK to tear it down.

… I did nothing useful. Oh, actually, I did go to town to have a look at some Macs, and concluded that I want a MacBook Pro after all: the 13 inch screen of a MacBook felt too small. I’m sure it’s just framing – given three choices, 13/15/17, the extremes feel extreme and the middle feels kind of just right. But knowing that doesn’t change the fact that this is what I felt.

Just as I was about to give up on modern Swedish fiction (and read only foreign books and Selma Lagerlöf in the future) I found a book really worth reading. Given my abysmal hit rate thus far, I expect I will find another readable one some time next summer.

Människohamn (“Human harbour”) begins on a beautiful, crisp winter day. On a small island in Stockholm’s archipelago, Anders, Cecilia and their six-year-old daughter Maja decide to take a walk over the ice, out to the lighthouse. But once they’re there, Maja disappears, even though there’s nowhere to go. Her tracks stop in the middle of the snow.

Two years later, Anders returns to the island, alone and alcoholized, and still obsessed with Maja’s disappearance. Out in their cabin, he sees things that seem to tell him that somehow Maja is still around.

Here the story starts to grow and spread, both backwards and forwards in time, and pulls in more people. At various points the main story thread pauses for a digression into the past, which then wraps up and smoothly directs us back into the main story. It turns into a family saga and a local history. (There’s an old Swedish tradition of skärgårdsroman, “archipelago novels”, dating back to Strindberg in the 1800s.)

It appears that Maja is far from the first person to disappear like that, and that some of them may indeed still be present even though they’re gone. And some of them are not entirely benevolent towards the living.

Just like Låt den rätte komma in, Människohamn makes for a great horror book because it blends the supernatural into the everyday so discreetly that it barely stands out and seems to belong there. His undead drive mopeds and quote 1970s pop music. As a result it seems quite believable that an evil force might be in residence somewhere out there in the sea. Only the ending is a bit too turgid, too much Lovecraftian “nameless evil from the abyss”.

I’d recommend this book to you even if you wouldn’t normally choose to read a horror story. Lindqvist is a great writer and Människohamn is a joy to read. The phrases flow effortlessly, the descriptions are evocative, the moods are wonderfully moody, the dialogue is lively and unforced.

… we started taking down the wall between the kitchen and the living room. The innermost layer turned out to be more solid than expected, so now we’re unsure whether it might be load-bearing to some extent and hesitant to move forward. Will need to consult with someone more expert tomorrow.

I also packed away all the nappies that Ingrid no longer uses.

To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

To a girl with a fascination for jigsaw puzzles, every toy looks like a jigsaw puzzle.
A plastic Rush Hour game? – Try to fit all the cars on the board, in neat rows.
Blister pack with toy food made of rubber? – Take the pieces out and then try to fit them back into their little shaped slots.
Set of six soft furry animal-shaped bowling pins? – Take them out of their bag and then try to fit them back in again.

… I went through the top of my main pile of papers, threw away about 20 of them, filed another 10 or so, and found 1 invoice that got paid barely in time.

I sort of decided what laptop to buy. It will be a Mac, and very probably a MacBook rather than a MacBook Pro. I don’t think the extra power of a Pro is worth 6000 extra kronor. The one thing I’m not sure about is screen size: MB with 13.3″ might feel small, perhaps the MBP with 15.4″ would be better? I’ll have to look at them both in real life before I can make a final decision.

In fact I don’t even need the highest-spec MacBook: 160GB hard drive is more than enough for me, given that I have used about 35GB on my current hard drive.

… see day 5.

I did nothing at all on the cleaning-and-organising front, except clean up all the wrapping papers after our gifts. (The Estonian tradition is to open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve.)