Constant

Traces

An evening with Dubravka Ugrešić in Amsterdam, on the occasion of the publication of the Dutch edition of her novel "The Fox" -- she insisted that it is a novel, so it's a novel.
A quote: "Everywhere we leave constant traces of our existence, of our struggle against vacuity. And the greater the vacuity, the more violent our struggle—"
A struggle agains vacuity and the traces of that struggle, what else is there?

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Advice

Underwhelmed

Q and a in a high school in Amsterdam. A charming and well spoken young man said: "Mr. Grunberg, I need your advice."
Ah, he wants to be an author I thought.
But he said: "I'd like to a diplomat. Do you I can pull this off?"
"Yes," I said. "You can do this."
Then he said: "To be honest, I'm underwhelmed by your work. I haven't read your novels, but your columns..." He shook his head.

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Ashamed

Event

An evening in Ghent about my book on the writer as hotel citizen, thanks to J. Roth. Due to the snow only a handful of the about 150 people who had reserved a seat came to the venue.
The front door appeared to be closed.
An elderly man approached me with the words: “Will the event take place, Mr. Grunberg?”
“I hope so,” I answered, “I stumbled through the snow for more than twenty minutes.”
The event started, my feet were still wet.
Then I realized that Charlotte, a poet, had knitted a scarf for me and that I had forgotten the scarf in NY, and she planned to attend the evening. I was deeply ashamed.
Then I said to myself: no, because of the snow, she won’t be here.
Well, despite the weather she made it to the event. She was in the company of a charming psychiatrist, I said: “Charlotte, I have to ask you for forgiveness. Your scarf, your lovely scarf, is in my closet in New York.”

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Train

Lille

The train from Paris Airport to Brussels stopped in Lille.
"There is a defect train ahead of us. We will be here for two hours of for twenty minutes. I cannot tell you more at this moment," the train manager announced.
I decided to leave the train and take a taxi to Ghent. Time is of the essence.
A room was reserved for me in hotel 1898 the post, it was my first time in this hotel and the driver from Lille said: "Where is it? Is it a hotel? I don't see a hotel. It looks like a church."
I gave him the name of the hotel, but the driver insisted: "It looks lik a church. Are you going to sleep in a church?"
Then he added: "It's not my business anyway."

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