Last weekend when I was waiting for the open-air concert of the Royal Danish Opera to begin I was reading a classic in Danish literature: Tom Kristensen’s Hærværk (Havoc). I had only just begun when a thunderstorm ruined everything and made me put away the book in order to keep it dry. As far as I know the book is about a man who runs amok, leaves his pretty bourgeois life with wife and child in order to drink himself to death. The internet tells me it’s inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses but I’ll leave that to people who have actually read both books (must be quite a limited number).
The title refers to the self destruction and to the destruction of the values of the bourgeoisie and the intellectuals. I guess.
Now you may have sensed that I am a little bit insecure…and that has a nice and simple explanation. I haven’t been able to continue my reading since the book has eaten it self up!
After having left the book in the plastic bag I enjoyed the concert, chatted with friends and family and as the concert ended and we packed up all our gear I put a couple of vacuum jugs with some old coffee into the bag.
When I reached home I found that the vacuum jugs didn’t know they were vacuum jugs. They though they were just jugs. And as such they had carefully spilled all their contents into the bag and drowned poor Havoc in coffee with milk.
As the old optimist I am I decided that Havoc needed another chance. So I tried to dry it.
It hadn’t been drying for more than 24 hours before mould started to grow all over pages and binding. Yet, still optimistic I removed the mould and left the book to its continued drying. The same thing repeated it self several times until I one day came home and found my apartment stinking like some rotten old garbage can.
That was when Havoc had self destroyed so effectively that I decided its ultimate home was not on my bookshelf but in – yes – the garbage can.
I find it rather amusing that a book titled Havoc has managed to eliminate it self just as the main character in the story. Life has a sense of humour!
Amusing as it is it still leaves me without the book I really wanted to read. And even though it was just a silly old paperback it had been in my parents’ collection for their entire relationship. They may not care about it but I thought it was quite cute to find both their names in it. So I have decided to buy the book, and in the same edition since I liked the cover design a lot. It’s on its way from some antiquarian bookstore in Jutland just as we speak. Great!