Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Stampede at My Book Presentation at UCLA? (Not Exactly, But At Least I Was Dry Humped By A Squirrel)

I just did my second presentation of The Tsar's Dwarf at UCLA. I was there a year ago as well, and now I was called back to inflict some more pain on the students.

If you haven't heard of UCLA, you're probably dead. Or worse, you're not American. UCLA is an unbelievably prestigious university that's lying in the heart of L.A. next to this place called Hollywood. You may have heard of Hollywood. That's the town where O.J. Simpson kills his wives and Leonardo di Caprio gets laid.

Well, I was invited to speak in two classes - a Hans Christian Andersen course and a Søren Kierkegaard philosophy class. I would lie if I said I was humbled by the experience, because I have an advantage when it comes to those two Great Danes: I'm alive and they're not. So I promoted myself shamelessly, talking about the existentialism in my writing. The fact that I've never read Kierkegaard didn't stop me.  I'm not an academic, I'm allowed to be as ignorant as George Bush.

When you walk around UCLA's gorgeous campus, you discover that even the buildings are celebrities. I pass Ronald Reagan Medical Center, Herb Albert's School of Music, and Cher's Institute for Plastic Surgery.

When I was here a year ago as part of My Pretentious World Tour, I dreamed that a lot of celebrities would show up for my reading. I pictured Charlie Sheen dropping by, trashing Royce Hall because I wouldn't give him my autograph. Or Mel Gibson going into one of his famous rants against all the Jews working in the canteen.

This time I've stopped dreaming. I'm more than happy talking to eighty students. They're absolutely wonderful and adorable. A few of them even send me emails afterward thanking me for coming.

Yes, I love UCLA. I could get addicted to the sunshine, the palm trees, and the sophomores drooling over iPads. It seems as if UCLA loves me back because when I enjoy a sandwich outside, I'm dry humped by a squirrel. How much more can a small Scandinavian author ask for?

Since UCLA is so close to Hollywood, I can't help dreaming of The Tsar's Dwarf being turned into a movie.  It would be very cheap to produce, only half of Avatar's budget. All you need is a set with 18th century Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen, a cake the size of a church, a convent with monks and evil priests, a rarity cabinet with seven feet giants and Eskimos, a few vomit basins, twenty sledges pulled by Siberian tigers, an actor who looks like Peter the Great (any white basketball player will do), and a cast of 64 dwarfs waiting to get married in a ballroom with miniature canons.

Honestly, Danish novels should become the new Hollywood addiction. So if any of you fat cats from MGM, Sony, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Miramax, and Fox Searchlight are reading this, you're more than welcome to start with mine. And now you're at it, would you mind putting me up in one of those fancy villas at Venice Beach? That place feels like a film set, anyway.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh Berlusconi, Just Wait Till Erection Day (Sorry, I Meant Election Day)

It's all over for Silvio Berlusconi.

The problem is that it's been all over for the Italian Prime Minister for decades. This man has been involved in more scandals than Charlie Sheen. The only difference is that Sheen trashes hotel rooms, Berlusconi trashes a country.

However, Berlusconi is still the Prime Minister of Italy. He seem to survive everything: screwing minors, insulting world leaders, buying other politicians, arranging bunga bunga parties.  But then again, our Silvio is probably an incarnation of Caligula. A Roman Emperor needs his orgies. We should just be happy that Berlusconi hasn't named his horse a senator yet, but I'm sure it's only a question of time.

Why does Italy elect Berlusconi?  The answer is simple. He's a multimillionaire, as charming as a reptile, and he owes most TV-stations and newspapers of importance. Italy isn't really a democracy in anyone's book. It's a mafia infested museum with incredible people, the most beautiful language in the world, and sixty million citizens who have no faith in their own government whoever leads.  So "Berlusconi isn't worse than the others," a lot of Italians argue, shaking their world weary heads.

"I have no idea who votes for Berlusconi," my Italian novelist friend Roberto Pazzi once told me. "Seriously, I don't know a single person who does."

All my other Italian friends say the same. They hate Berlusconi and deeply ashamed of his corrupt politics, his lame jokes, and his saggy balls that are flapping in the breeze. The man is 74 years old, more sun tanned than John Boehner and keeps on passing laws that benefit his own business empire - and always when Parliament is about to go on vacation.

Silvio Berlusconi is so indecent he gives the Mafia a bad name. At least, the Mafia has sick morals. Berlusconi has none, only appetites ... but still he gets elected again and again. Still, he is saved by other politicians in Parliament who are bought, bribed - and when he dies, the Pope will probably make him a saint, since the Vatican has deep compassion for those who have been accused of sexual abuse ...

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves a very hard question: Why do we get the leaders we get?

They must be an expression of the collective unconsciousness and our national psyche. In Denmark our leaders are bland and mediocre. In Sweden they are competent and boring. In Italy they're untrustworthy but wildly entertaining.

Our leaders seem to be a mirror of our nation's shadow side, so no wonder we all often suffer from chronic indigestion when it comes to politics. Somehow we're confronted with our own darkness every time we turn on the news.