Discussion (spoilers)

For discussion of John Ajvide Lindqvist's short story collection Låt de gamla drömmarna dö
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danielma
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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by danielma » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:05 am

drakkar wrote:
danielma wrote:- Considering they were so in love with one another, why is it that Karin and Steffan never had kids? This got me thinking, the narrator describes them often as being a very close couple...surely you would believe that a couple that were so close and so much in love would want to try for children. Was Karin infertile? Was that why she had such a fascination with this case...I mean I know it's the case that bought her to her husband, but what else motivated her? Was it the fact that Oskar was so young and that it reminded her of the inability to have children? Did she become attached in her own way (much like we the infected are attached to these two kids)
From the top of my head, Karin was about eighty when they left for Barcelona, making her well into the fifties when she and Stefan met. So yes, I believe she was to old for kids.
Yeah I thought about that after typing it out...I started thinking, well the menstrual clock most likely burnt out when Stefan and Karin met and fell in love...but still, there could be some form of regret on their behalf about the lack of children. I just find it interesting that the narrator describes them as being very close and a couple that compliment each other so wonderfully. If they were that complimentary to one another then surely there must have been some regret over the lack of children in their life...and maybe that's what led to the further fascination towards Oskar (considering he is the kid that very much bought them together)
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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by drakkar » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:29 am

danielma wrote:Yeah I thought about that after typing it out...I started thinking, well the menstrual clock most likely burnt out when Stefan and Karin met and fell in love...but still, there could be some form of regret on their behalf about the lack of children. I just find it interesting that the narrator describes them as being very close and a couple that compliment each other so wonderfully. If they were that complimentary to one another then surely there must have been some regret over the lack of children in their life...and maybe that's what led to the further fascination towards Oskar (considering he is the kid that very much bought them together)
Another reason to go to Barcelona and search for them. Who knows, perhaps they got their kids in the end? :mrgreen: :wub:
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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by metoo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:40 pm

danielma wrote:[...] If they were that complimentary to one another then surely there must have been some regret over the lack of children in their life...and maybe that's what led to the further fascination towards Oskar (considering he is the kid that very much bought them together)
Surely? Maybe the truth instead was that they were so close that there was no place for anybody else in their life? They apparently had no friends other than the narrator, which supports this idea.

If this is true, it might have been what was needed for them to wish for an eternal life for themselves, disregarding everybody else. It's a plausible reading of their last message to the narrator, anyway, that this was what they were looking for. Remember, LTODD is a horror story – maybe K&S are the monsters here.

By the way, there's no need to use annoying spoiler tags in this thread, there is already a warning in the subject.
But from the beginning Eli was just Eli. Nothing. Anything. And he is still a mystery to me. John Ajvide Lindqvist

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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by EEA » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:09 pm

I did not think about this before. Interesting idea. Also maybe there love was to strong for them to share with anyone else. Love is sometimes selfish.

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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by danielma » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:13 pm

metoo wrote: Surely? Maybe the truth instead was that they were so close that there was no place for anybody else in their life? They apparently had no friends other than the narrator, which supports this idea.
Certainly could be a possibility...I won't deny that...for myself though, I still wonder, was the fascination further driven by regret over lack of children, or was it just a fascination that constantly served as a reminder of their own relationship and what bought them together in the first place...it certainly could work either way and I don't shoot that down at all.
If this is true, it might have been what was needed for them to wish for an eternal life for themselves, disregarding everybody else. It's a plausible reading of their last message to the narrator, anyway, that this was what they were looking for. Remember, LTODD is a horror story – maybe K&S are the monsters here.
Well it's not just a horror story though, it is (like everything JAL writes) a love story as well. Maybe your right, maybe Eternal life is what they desired and maybe that's what they found from Oskar and Eli and maybe that's where the horror lies. For my money though, I think realistically the odds are against them ever finding Oskar and Eli...and if they do find them, there is nothing to say that Oskar and Eli wouldn't immeadiately rip out their throats for dinner.

My view on the ending is that there isn't much time left for Stefan on this planet. They just got a massive clue that is further proving just how right Karin was in her theory. Since there isn't much time left for Stefan on this world...why not spend your final days fleeing to live rather then lingering and waiting to die. My thought is that it was an impulsive move on their behalf. I don't think that they thought little of the narrator, if anything they bought some cheer into his lonely life. Just think, when they moved away they still kept in constant contact with him, when Karin had the heart operation, Steffan specifically asked him to be there...that doesn't seem that they had disregard for him and favoured their own relationship over everything else. Maybe they spent Stefan's final days chasing the thing that bought them together in the first place.

I mean your not wrong, the narrator even states that they were the type of couple that were so involved that they seemingly ate up the compliments they were given and fed off them. Maybe they were so involved with one another that they decided to spend his final days chasing the thing that bought them together. Maybe the reason for the fascination is purely to feed their own satsifaction in their relationship...or maybe not

And that is what I very much like about the story...it doesn't really answer too much and still leaves lingering questions in the air :)
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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by Wolfchild » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:54 am

To answer the original question: I think it is believable that Oskar would be ready to kill and kill again in order to be with Eli. I don't really see Karin or Stefan being ready to spend years, months, decades, (centuries?) draining blood form innocent persons (even if they don't yet know about the neck-breaking thing yet). In the LDKRI, John lays a lot of ground work to support the idea that Oskar could be capable of living the life of an infected. The first time he meets Eli, as he is stabbing the tree:
There was enough light for him to determine that it was a girl he had never seen before. Oskar took a step toward the jungle gym. The girl didn't move, just stood there looking at him.

He took another step and suddenly he grew scared. Of what? Of himself. He was on his way toward the girl with his hand tightly closed around the knife, on his way to stab her with it. No, that wasn't true. But that was how he had felt, for a moment. Wasn't she scared?
Among other things, that passage shows a link between Oskar's rage and his violent fantasies, and then goes on to hint that his fantasies could be ready to leak into his reality. Then after getting whipped in the school yard, Oskar creeps himself out talking to himself in the mirror and has a very detailed fantasy about killing Tomas:
He took the rinsed Pissball and put it on his nose. Like a clown nose. The yellow ball and the red wound on his cheek. Oskar. He opened his eyes wide and tried to look crazy. Yes. Creepy. He talked to the clown in the mirror.

"It's over now, it's enough. Understand? This is it."

The clown didn't answer.

"I'm not standing for this. Not even one more time, understand?"

Oskar's voice echoed in the empty bathroom.

"What should I do? What should I do, do you think?"

He twisted his face into a grimace until it hurt, distorted his voice by making it as raspy and low as he could. The clown spoke.

"... kill them ... kill them ... kill them."

Oskar shivered. This was a little creepy for real. It really sounded like someone else's voice, and the face in the mirror wasn't his own. He took the Pissball from his nose, put it back in his pants.

The tree.

Not because he really believed in this and all ... but he would go stab the tree. Maybe, just maybe. If he really concentrated, then ...

Maybe.

Oskar picked up his bag and hurried home, filling his head with lovely images.

Tomas is sitting at his computer when he feels the first stab. Doesn't understand where it is coming from. Staggers out into the kitchen with the blood gushing from his stomach. "Mom, Mom, someone is stabbing me."

Tomas' mom would just stand there. Tomas' mom who always took his side no matter what he had done. She would just stand there. Terror stricken. While the stabs continued to puncture Tomas' body.

He falls to the kitchen floor in a pool of blood, "Mom ... Mom while the invisible knife cuts open his stomach so his intestines spill out onto the linoleum.

Not that it really worked that way.

But still.
The passage above definitely paints a picture of Oskar's inner pent up rage making him comfortable with the idea of killing. Now Oskar's anger is urging his conscious mind to act with violence, and he is showing signs of being able to dissociate himself from it.

Then when Oskar thinks he is going to become infected because he handled Eli's bloody clothes with his hand that the cut on it:
I'll help you.

He looked at his hand again. The hand that helped. The hand that ...

I'll kill someone. I'll go in and get the knife and then I'll go out and kill someone. Jonny. I'll slit his throat and gather up his blood and then I'll bring it home for Eli because what does it matter now that I'm infected and soon I will ...

His legs wanted to crumple up under him and he had to lean on the edge of the garbage chute not to fall over. He had thought it. For real. This wasn't like the game with the tree. He had ... for a moment ... really thought about doing it.
Now here, finally, Oskar's rage at Jonny becomes coupled with Eli's survival. Now his revenge on his tormentors can be coupled with some higher cause, and for a second this seemed a good idea to Oskar. JAL spends time taking on this journey of showing us how Oskar not only accepts that Eli kills to survive, but could be ready to take part in it. After the foundation laid in LDKRI, it does not seem surprising that by the time Oskar reached Karlstad in LTODD he would be ready to take on a life of killing in order to be with Eli.

However, with Stefan and Karin, I don't think any similar foundation has been laid. Yes, they would most assuredly be ready to spend eternity with each other, but the killing? Is there anything in LTODD that would make us think that either of them would be ready to take part in even one killing, let alone hundreds or thousands? Being twelve, Oskar can probably not think too far beyond today. He could not imagine a trail of murders stretching unbroken into the indefinite future in order to keep himself alive. As an adult, Stefan would be able to visualize this consideration, and as a former Blackeberg police officer Karin would have first hand knowledge of the cost of such a choice. I can't see either of them even asking to become infected, let alone actually following through on such a choice.

In a way, they are avatars for most of us here: They are willing to toss everything aside for a chance to meet Oskar and Eli, but that doesn't mean that they want to be Oskar and Eli. Which of us would not buy a plane ticket to Spain (if at all possible) in such a situation? Would that mean that we want become infected?

Just as I thought that LDKRI didn't need to continue beyond Oskar & Eli together on the train, so I also think that the story of Karin & Stefan doesn't need to continue beyond them possibly meeting Oskar & Eli. I think LTODD offers even less guidance about what becomes of K&S than LDKRI offered about O&E, and I kinda like it that way. 8-)
...the story derives a lot of its appeal from its sense of despair and a darkness in which the love of Eli and Oskar seems to shine with a strange and disturbing light.
-Lacenaire

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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by metoo » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:22 am

Wolfchild wrote:Just as I thought that LDKRI didn't need to continue beyond Oskar & Eli together on the train, so I also think that the story of Karin & Stefan doesn't need to continue beyond them possibly meeting Oskar & Eli. I think LTODD offers even less guidance about what becomes of K&S than LDKRI offered about O&E, and I kinda like it that way.
Hmm. What about all the fan fiction here, then? :think:

Well, to be true I agree. I wouldn't want JAL to write any sequels, I want the possibility to have my own fantasies. And to publish them.
Wolfchild wrote:However, with Stefan and Karin, I don't think any similar foundation has been laid. Yes, they would most assuredly be ready to spend eternity with each other, but the killing? Is there anything in LTODD that would make us think that either of them would be ready to take part in even one killing, let alone hundreds or thousands? Being twelve, Oskar can probably not think too far beyond today. He could not imagine a trail of murders stretching unbroken into the indefinite future in order to keep himself alive. As an adult, Stefan would be able to visualize this consideration, and as a former Blackeberg police officer Karin would have first hand knowledge of the cost of such a choice. I can't see either of them even asking to become infected, let alone actually following through on such a choice.
This, is true, there is no such foundation in regard to Stefan and Karin. However, there is very little told about them. In LTROI, the perspective is mostly Oskar's and sometimes Eli's, while we never get a similar view into the minds of S&K. So we don't know what was really the thoughts behind that last message. But it does have a rather strong hint of someone expecting a future. And I don't think they had turned religious.
But from the beginning Eli was just Eli. Nothing. Anything. And he is still a mystery to me. John Ajvide Lindqvist

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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by drakkar » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:29 am

History has shown that most people are able to kill, given the right circumstances. An important factor is distance. I war, killing from a distance is easier than killing an enemy solider you recognize as a person. To overcome that, you create a mental distance, "them and us", creating an image of lesser value of the enemy ("Untermensch", "Axis of Evil") etc. which you can project on ene,my persons you meet, to overcome the resistance towards killing another person.
In the wake of the Utøya massacre, there was some discussions in this topic lately. The most in-depth contribution, IMO, is an artickle Karl Ove Knausgård published 22/7-12, a year after the massacre (in Swedish and German)

Projecting this on LTROI and LTODD, Oskar's process of "leaving the world" throughout the story made it easier for him to create distance to other people, and becoming a killer. Being a child also helps.
What about Karin & Stefan? I agree with metoo when he points out that they seemed quite self absorbed, having no friends other than the narrator. Furthermore, Karin felt alienated from the police force, being slightly ridiculed when she put forward her "vampire theory". Towards the end of the story they separated themselves further from the world, mostly living isolated from it in their cottage.
I agree it is less direct support for K&S becoming vampires in LTODD, but the story also is very short, with little room for explicit examples.
So bottom line - I don't find it impossible that K&S could pursue a life as vampires, not at all. (And then they also would have kids, and the kids would have parents, at last becoming a family :mrgreen: 8-) )
For the heart life is simple. It beats as long as it can.
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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by danielma » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:38 am

What about Karin & Stefan? I agree with metoo when he points out that they seemed quite self absorbed, having no friends other than the narrator. Furthermore, Karin felt alienated from the police force, being slightly ridiculed when she put forward her "vampire theory". Towards the end of the story they separated themselves further from the world, mostly living isolated from it in their cottage.
I agree it is less direct support for K&S becoming vampires in LTODD, but the story also is very short, with little room for explicit examples.
Too true...no one can deny the slight parallel's between O&E and K&S
So bottom line - I don't find it impossible that K&S could pursue a life as vampires, not at all. (And then they also would have kids, and the kids would have parents, at last becoming a family :mrgreen: 8-) )
It is definetly not out of the question...in a way, Karin & Stefan paralell a fair bit of Oskar and Eli's story...the alienation from society and in the end leaving it all behind - including their one trusted friend.

I think, realistically, the odds are against them in finding O&E, and if they do by chance find them, then would O or E do the deed for them, or would they just kill K&S?

It's very questionable as to what became of K&S...but I wouldn't have it any other way :) Speaking of "Leaving the World", my thought on the ending is that time will eventually run out for Stefan due to the cancer, realistically the odds aren't in their favour for finding O&E, after all, who is to say O&E haven't already fled from Barcelona by the time K&S get there...but I don't know if it necessarily matters. All that really matters is that much like O&E did in LTROI, K&S are now fleeing for life rather then lingering behind waiting for death. With so precious little time left for Stefan, why not leave the world you knew behind and pursuit the thing that in-directly bought you happiness to begin with?

It's stupid, wreckless, self absorbed...but it's love :) And why spend your final days on the Earth lingering when you can flee for life and pursuit something with your loved one that helped bring you together. So yeah I don't think it necessarily matters what happens to K&S in the end.

That's what I found touching about it...K&S directly paralell O&E in some ways...it fills in the blank for what became of Oskar whilst still doing what the original book did - showing a glimpse of impact that Eli can have on someone's life. After all, K&S fell in love in-directly because of O&E
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Re: Discussion (spoilers)

Post by drakkar » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:24 am

Metoo and I was musing over what became of K&S over at the johnajvide forum, when John visited the discussion stating that he himself hadn't the slightest idea about what became of them. However he hoped the best. :) Even if the chances for K&S stumble across E&O in Barcelona are rather slim, he (also :mrgreen: ) holds his thumbs up for that. Despite the violence and horror this is a romantic story, where those who love each other should be with each other.

John's post:
John wrote:Skojig diskussion.
Det lustiga är att jag själv inte har en aning. Naturligtvis hoppas jag på det bästa, men denna historia är ett bra exempel på när jag har haft vett att lägga av i tid. Om man skärskådar Stefan och Karins verkliga möjligheter att hitta Oskar och Eli, samt att övertyga dem om att smitta dem så känns det rätt osannolikt. Men båda historierna är ju, trots våld och otäckheter, mycket romantiska. Och i sådana historier ska ju de som älskar varandra få vara med varandra. Helst för alltid. Så jag håller tummarna för dem.
For the heart life is simple. It beats as long as it can.
- Karl Ove Knausgård

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