Il pomeriggio di un piastrellista written by Lars Gustafsson is a book published by Iperborea an italian publishing house devoted to literature of North European Countries.
It's pretty dense of meanings although this book is long just 145 pages. In this book you breath all the density of life.
The story apparently is a common one. An old mason, his specialization is to put tiles on the various environments of a house is contacted by a Finnish friend. There is a work waiting for him if he wants.
A kitchen and a bathroom in a house located in a certain place needs new tiles after that who worked previously there did a very bad work. It's not a long work after all.
Would he be interested? Torsten Bergman the protagonist of this work can be interested of course.
Sure: he is a bit old and after the loss of his wife all his interests for an active life disappeared and his house is an accumulation of papers, magazines, mails.
Torsten doesn't know anymore when it was the last time he went out, or if his car is still functioning.
We can consider Torsten depressed but at the same time "disconnected" because this society too senseless to him. There is not anyone who can be trusted.
Lost in his thoughts, he drives 'till to reaching this house.
A peculiar house. Beauty, at first immerse in the dark, on the second floor maybe there is someone. Voices. Interior voices, voices from the past, good voices. Voices of his life, we must remember that this book is a book about an existence or more than an existence and the meaning of it.
Back to the book who lives in that second apartment? A lady, Sofie, but who is she? A lady with some children, a young person... Fantasy runs. Torsten finds a way for lighting the apartment and discovers that yes, that place is not bad at all. But there is no one with which to speak with.
Paradoxality is this one. He is called for working in that place by a friend but no one is there for establishing a price, for paying this man, for discovering for curiosity who is working in his/her house, for shaking his hand. No one.
He is just there all alone for trying to repair the damages done by the previous masons and adding new tiles with the respect that that place deserves. In complete solitude.
Solitude. A treat of our times.
More than to focusing on the character of Torsten to me it's the house the centrality of the story because the house represents the existence and tiles to me what we add to it.
Maybe this empty house is empty because no ones cares anymore for it and only other people not anymore the owners, can try to sort out its problems. It can be read under a psychologist aspect to my point of view. An existence, the house wounded and in search of a healer.
The house as the existence and what we do with it in all its paradoxality and not because the existence is a paradox but because life can be weird.
Sometimes it seems that all pieces are right, other ones a wild wind changes the cards on life's table and there are not anymore certainties.
Sometimes we get lost, other times we find the path with simplicity but then again e are lost because there is a perennial story of yin e yang we are in chaos and uncertainty again.
I thought a lot about the elegant faucet removed by Torsten for going to a store and buying glue for tiles and stucco and other materials. Maybe the meaning is giving away something precious from our existence for buying the necessary for fixing what it is wrong, remembering what we did and leaving traces of it.
When we born we find situations and people and growing up we add pieces, tiles, to our existence as well. We embellish our existence. Let's consider our existence a house in construction and sometimes a place that needs to be restored because of the damages we caused to ourselves or other caused to ourselves.
Do we put tiles in order or not? Do we rush or do we pay attention? Do we create a beautiful and enchanting house with our existence or a house empty of values and sentiments and so a ghostly house where just the shadow of an existence passes by? Do we plant seeds of love in the garden of our house/existence or seeds of hate? Which ones we will cultivate the most?
Do we permit that water as in the case of this book, so metaphorically problems, damage us without to trying to see where there are the origins of them, fixing them and going on peacefully?
And what kind of meaning can we give at the word: order reading this book?
Sure the previous masons in the house where Torsten is working in didn't do a great job.
But after all if owners of a house are phantoms why should that masons have done a good work? Just because they wanted to do a good work, but how many people can work well when no one is there and no one cares and no one pay attention?
That house where Torsten works is a place of sentiments and these sentiments can fluidly lives in the mind of the protagonist. Nothing is more powerful than the action of building an house and what we will put there.
A house has a special soul and absorbs the souls of people living there.
Torsten thinking that alone can't work, meets along his way an old friend with which he spent his childhood with and asks him to joining him: Stig.
It was a long time that he didn't see Stig and Stig tells him his life with all its surreality. According to Torsten maybe his friend exaggerated a lot but who knows?
Stig curious of the apartment at the second floor opens it and finds a precious object. Should they open it?
And if it contains a treasure? A treasure can make happy two elderly people or also I would add two young people?
The book wants to let us reflect about what it is not ours. Stealing can't never give happiness and it's a risk.
While they were working a lady scared with two children enters in the house asking for a phone and telling that her husband is violent.
It's a relative of Stig this man, Alfred although he still doesn't know it.
A painter...What is a painting if not the representation of the reality? But what is reality?
The end of the story leaves open various scenarios to the readers.
Maybe Stig is too absorbed by the story previously told by Affe, his golden fishes, his good house, big car, the absence of a good hospitality because the wife doesn't mind of treating well a good relative of his husband, the material things he possesses thanks to a work after all not completely honest and what these material things caused to his existence: perdition and jail when more or less he tried to kill a man and not for a story of honor, but because of a material object.
Where this world is going on? What kind of behavior can be the one of
a man trying to killing a person because of an object?
It's the same story lived by Stig with a public phone. Some young people devastated it and why? For sport. Because too boring, because there wasn't anything else to do.
Or just for an act of cruelty and because people are not anymore in grade to appreciate anything and nothing is anymore precious to their eyes. Maybe because normality and humanity got lost at a certain point.
Yes. It's a book that you will enjoy to read and that will leave you with a lot of questions. To me the centrality of this tale is not the failure of existences but what a person can choose to become also considering external influences and necessities.
It's a reflection, a powerful reflection about a reality paradoxically illogical where who is right and who is wrong are undefined if I take in consideration the story of the lady, two babies and Affe, but also the behavior kept by the other protagonists.
In a world so confused people can just rest for relaxing their mind and their hearts breathing the whispers of their old times when certainties were strong and where reality clear and happiest.
That's why to me mr. Gustafsson closed the book in this way.
I highly suggest this book to everyone.
I thank Iperbora for the physical copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori