Bleak Days

Gustav walked on, flecks of snow stinging his cheeks like spits of sand, the rhythmic crunch-crunch of his boots accompanying him like a funeral drum.

Your novel, sir, is a mixture of genuine truth and private grouch, Strindberg had told him, but too much of the latter for them to consider publishing it.

What now, he thought?

He pressed his mittens to his face and inhaled, believing he could still detect the faint odor of home, his mother baking Havreflarn in the enamel stove with its neat pyramid of split spruce logs at the ready, his father puffing his pipe and reading his Testament.

Gustav tugged the mitten off with his teeth, shoved his cold-numb hand deep into his pocket to again feel the comforting weight of the three-krona piece. He spied a cafe across the square.

He had his pen and paper, some ink.

He would start again.

Home was where he made it.


What Pegman Saw: Stockholm

Gustaf af Geijerstam (1858–1909) was a Swedish novelist. A friend of August Strindberg, he never achieved the fame or success that many felt was his due. Most of his works were translated into German during his lifetime, and one, Äktenskapets komedi (1898), was reviewed favorable by Rainer Maria Rilke, who remarked that Geijerstam was an author “one must follow attentively from book to book.” 

Bleak Days was the title of one of his early stories.