I found a writer I did not know and enjoyed his writing. 

The Swede, John Ajvide Lindqvist (born 1968), is a splendid writer, both his novels and short stories. He can write in a fashion that others cannot do. “Let the Old Dreams Die” is an example. It is a beautiful book. The book has twelve short stories in 400 pages. I enjoyed them all. They are delightful, easy, and enjoyable to read. He captures and holds our attention with his fine writing.

Lindqvist tells us in his Afterword that he likes writing horror tales. He recognizes that people have compared him to the American horror author Stephen King and that King likes his books. Lindqvist’s horror stories are not scary. He is able to suggest what other horror tale writers describe in often gruesome detail in a mild manner that offers more than what is explicit. This allows readers to use their imagination. It makes us think, and when we add our thoughts, it makes the reading more enjoyable.

Three of his books were made into highly acclaimed movies. One was also turned into a TV series. He also wrote three plays. He wrote his first novel in 2004. It was a vampire tale called “Let the Right One In.” A highly acclaimed film was made of it. There is a sequel to it in this short story collection. It is about the love between Stefan and Karin. Again, Lindqvist describes scenes where more is suggested than said. With his writing and our imagination, we can feel the intense power of their love. I liked it very much even though I did not read the previous book or see the film.


One of his movies

The 2018 Swedish movie “Border” with Eva Melander is also based on a tale in this book. It is a brooding, disturbing, weird, and unusual film that will delight many but put off others. It is advertised as a fairy tale for adults. There are not many films like it.

It is about an unattractive female with an uncanny ability to smell emotions. She is a customs officer at an airport. Her unusual ability allows her to sense when incoming passengers hide something illegal. She has unerring success until she senses that a man who resembles her, being similarly unattractive, is hiding something. The man’s satchel is searched as well as his body. Nothing is found. However, it is discovered that the man has no penis. He has a vigina and a scar on his behind, indicating that something was removed from his body. She has the same scar.

She has loving feelings toward animals, and the emotions are reciprocated. She is living with a man she does not love and does not engage in sex with him. She allows him to be in her home because she feels lonely being alone. We wonder why she refuses to have sex with him when he is passionate about her. The answer becomes clear when she falls in love with the man with a vigina.

She is attracted to the man with the vagina. She doesn’t know why. But she feels the man will help her understand herself better; how can she smell emotions, and why do she and he look different than other people? She sends her present roommate away and joins the man. She discovers how he is different from others. He eats worms and teaches her to like them also.

She also discovers that he does horrible things. He is taking revenge on humans for the mistreatments humans have done to his people. This raises questions for her. Should she join the man and be with her kind? Should she not do so because what he is doing is evil? Alternatively, don’t humans also do evil? Evil aside, is it reasonable to continue to do what she has done for years? We feel sorry for her.


The original short story “Border”

“Border” is the first tale in “Let the Old Dreams Die.” It is 54 pages long. There are many minor differences between the original short tale and the movie, but the film is essentially the same tale Lindqvist wrote. I enjoyed both versions.

Lindqvist tells us in his Afterword that it is his favorite story in the book. He informs us that its original title was “The Cross.” He does not explain either title. I guess “The Cross” reminds us of a burden hard to carry. Tina’s burden of what she is. It may be that “Border” suggests a line between two sections. In this case, it may indicate that Tina is between living as a human and as a troll.