Inger Edelfeld. Amazing Chameleon – reviews and reviews read on the internet

  • Inger Edelfeld. Amazing chameleon / trans. by the Swedish M. Lyudkovskaya. – Moscow: Text, 2022. – 302 p.

Inger Edelfeldt is a Swedish writer and artist. He is the author of more than 30 books and has received numerous literary awards, including the Dobloug Prize (1996), which is awarded annually by the Swedish Academy.

The Amazing Chameleon is a collection of eleven short stories written from the perspective of women who are going through difficult times in their lives. The loss of loved ones or a personal crisis that takes place against the backdrop of a gloomy nature and a distorted consciousness – this is what unites the heroines of all stories.


You must have wondered many times why sometimes I leave home with such an expression on my face. Or maybe they were not surprised. Sometimes it is difficult to understand whether people are surprised or not. Even when these people are your family.

And really, why be surprised: after all, I always say that I go to my childhood friend. She is so shy, so easily upset and does not want to meet you.

Each time I get her a thermos with hot chocolate and a sandwich. This will definitely surprise you. After all, when an adult is waiting for guests, he prepares a treat.

But he does not cook anything, that is exactly what happened.

Children are invited to take them with you. But I explain that my boyfriend is afraid of children. And they always laugh: is it possible to scare children?

I tell them that he is afraid of almost everything except me. And he is not afraid of me. I understand her, I love her – she knows it. And I will never forget her.

So you do not need to discourage me, I have to leave. If it ‘s winter outside, I dress warmly. I put a thermos and a sandwich in my backpack and drive to the same suburb.

If there is a change, I can already hear children’s voices from a distance. This is a special sound, reminiscent of a turbulent, volatile sea swirling chips and debris in a whirlwind or wind passing through a bare but talkative forest full of forgotten things: baby jump ropes, hair tying, key rings, gnawed, bags with physical condition. The spit froze on the branches and grass of this forest. Moss grows cigarette butts. This is how the forest is: icy water drains with boots and small birds look for food with icy beaks.

I pass between the straight squares of the lawn and see the school yard. It always surprises me how small he is. And yet from him breathes infinite loneliness and humidity. Ice desert and dust.

It is best to come here when there is a lesson and the yard is empty.

I sit in a grove, from here I see everything clearly.

A girl is walking in an empty yard, it is a little late. How small she is! A child is like a child, that’s amazing. A child is like a child, but inside it can be anything. A hurricane or landslide, dragging with it a devastated world, or a carcass eaten by worms. Or maybe a fortress fortified to protect from enemies. A treasure sunk in the depths of the sea, guarded by cuttlefish with thousands of hands launching a black cloud. A ship sailing on impenetrable ice, because the bird of happiness was killed.

Or maybe it’s just a white-red dog – her nose turned red and her eyes swam. Yes, he’s more like a dog. On rigid, rigid legs, cut with small steps – click-clack. The dog’s name is Shame. And this shame is hers.

Here he comes to the door of the school. She still does not know that her hat is not the right one. Her mother knitted her hat while the girl was sick. Why was she sick? She does not know. Mom said it was too much work or something like a cold.

But she says: “This is a curse” or “This can not be”.

Can not be? at first you just tried to think like that. It was almost like a game. You look at something and you think: it can not be.

But the game dominates you more and more and now it no longer obeys you. It is like being in the sea, swimming and swimming and suddenly you are far from the shore. You are alone, you get carried away more and more. You want to scream: it’s not me, I’m there, playing on the shore!

My friend, do not wonder what can be and what can not be. You will wake up in the middle of the night and you will understand: the truth is emptiness. Everything else is sequins, dust. Time, words, names. Colors and sounds. Your hands, your tongue.

And you’ll think they’re kidding you. That girl who played by the sea has never been, there is no one there.

And now you wake up in the middle of what is called night. You understand everything and you are alone. You tremble like your body is crumbling to dust.

And if you are a little girl, then you probably see how your mother sleeps on the other side of the room. You will not wake her. After all, you know, he wants so much to believe that you are the same girl who plays on the shore and not the one who ended up in the sea.

Otherwise, mom will be scared.

The girl crosses the school yard. So she enters the door and goes up the stairs, on her head is this same hat. She knocks on one of the doors and is allowed in. The classroom becomes quiet. Suddenly someone starts laughing. And now everyone is laughing so they can not calm down. So, has anyone seen such an ugly hat?

But the girl still does not know what to do with her hat at the big break.

This is the hat that a little dog named Shame was wearing.

I’m not cold at all. Time passes and I do not notice it. Call. The children ran out into the yard. How small they are! But I refuse
from them. At this sound, my heart beats like I’m out of breath from running.

I know I can take them to the schoolyard and they will do nothing for me. They will see a big woman and decide that I will replace the teacher. It’s just on my shoulder. I am their boss, the one who can punish them or complain to them. The help.

There is nothing strange about me. I’m not a beggar. I wear branded clothes. After all, I always try to follow fashion, although it is not cheap.

But still, a little ugly dog ​​is trembling inside me. He smells and grumbles: “I’m cold, I’m cold, home, let’s go home, there are bedding and treats for dogs.”

My body responds immediately: my shoulders pull in, my breath catches, my stomach tightens, my stomach tightens as if preparing to withstand the very blow of a hockey stick.

But I stay seated. In the summer, when you do not see me behind the foliage, sometimes I take binoculars with me. I show it to children’s faces, now in one thing, then in another, I try to guess. he will do well, but he needs help, he will live a measured life, and he will burn like a torch, some of them are destined to freeze to death, and some of them are probably like me.

I know this activity is useless. No one will be better for that. But I still sit in my place and admire how small they are, how smooth their faces are, how similar they look to each other in abandonment and stubbornness. In my memory, it was not so similar. Each of them had a feature on his face that looked awesome up close: freckles, an unusually sharp forehead with a scratch or a scar from a nail, fused eyebrows, an uneven hairline. The pupils are tightened in bright light, a nose with the nostrils wide enough to absorb the attractive smell of fear. They did what they did, by the way, like throwing a candy wrapper on the go or running a stick along the fence to make noise.

But now I think to myself.

I came here to leave here. Only when I return here can I leave here.

I’m waiting for the bell to ring. And as a magnet attracts iron shavings, as a waterfall falls, so children rush to the doors, as if dragged by the force of natural gravity. Obeying only a quiet call.

The call is immediately given to my body, confusion is born in me and a mood to get up and leave, to force myself to enter this door. This confusion is going to break out in tears, but I say to myself: “You do not need to go there anymore, you have your own way and this is not even an absence”.

As I take my breath away, I feel pain in my chest. Tears well up in my eyes. I want to thank someone, a good fairy or a well-meaning deity.

The Fairy looks like me. “You can go,” he says. – You are already an adult. You have your own life. “It’s okay for you.”

And I get up. I leave school, I enter a rare grove. My body still hurts, but it becomes light, as if I was about to be swept away by the wind.

I’m going to a big rock, behind which I once hid. I’m not freezing now. The ears are no longer the old thin ice shells that are going to fall. I have a scarf on my head. (I do not wear hats.)

I get a thermos and a sandwich. I breathe slowly and deeply. I drink hot chocolate. And I think about what I have: home, family, work. Everything I never hoped for. For the feeling of fullness of my flesh and that special melody that is heard inside me when my husband hugs me and I hug him. For the mysterious upbringing of my children. For work, conversations with colleagues, for simple ritual phrases we exchange daily: “Are we going to a cafe for lunch today?”, “Did you still bring the mail?”, “Where did you buy this t-shirt?”

They are looking at me. They probably see me as an ordinary person who probably likes them. And it surprises me every day.

I returned home. I stand by you. You hug me, you kiss me.

And maybe you understand very well that inside me lives a small white dog with a tight nose, icy legs and very sharp teeth.

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