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I was introduced the other night to the most prominent Norwegian painter; and that’s something you don’t get to say every day! ?rnulf Opdahl is a lovely man, like a cross between a sort of elf and an uncle, beamingly happy and smiley. He was dressed all in dark black, as you might expect a Norwegian painter to be, at his gallery opening – and in response to a remark that there doesn’t seem to be much spring in these paintings, he cheerfully replied that winter is by far his favourite season.

The paintings are brooding and dark, but quite ethereal – full of fj?rds that could also be abstracts, and great reaches of sky in black and red horizontals – painted in thick, rough paint, layered subtly with colours you don’t expect to see in it until you get up close. He’s a very surprising colourist. The Norwegian Ambassador, declaring the exhibition open, said that in his depictions of light, Opdahl is a Norwegian Turner – big words you could never imagine an American or British ambassador saying. We are ruled by philistines.

The exhibition was at Purdy Hicks gallery – where Egg Printing Explained is going to be launched in a few weeks time, along with Tamar Yoseloff’s The City? With Horns. We’re very excited that Opdahl’s paintings will be on the wall when we have our launch; Tammy owns one, and it’s on the cover of her book (“Here’s one I prepared earlier”) Barnard’s Star. So it will have personal meaning, and it will also tie in rather well with our books, which both have a strong visual art element.

It’s all very lovely, and a bit of a thrill to be part of it all, frankly!

Regular readers may or may not recall that the wider Baroque family is prominently inhabited with painters and other visual artists; indeed, some of them dour brooding Northern Europeans. This upbringing gave Ms B an abiding love of the brooding Northern Europeans, who are really among the best-informed and most entertaining people alive. It will be wonderful to launch Egg Printing Explained – with its longish sequence of poems about that other wonderful dour Scandinavian, Vilhelm Hammersh?i – surrounded by these wonderful, lightfilled, mysterious paintings.

In other news, the middle offpsring, the Tall Blond Rock God, is now out of the hospital he was rushed to on Tuesday – in DALLAS – with what turned out to be appendicitis. This is of little concern to most, but it is still not what a mum needs to hear, that her kid is ill in a hospital 5,000 miles away. What is wonderful is that he collapsed in Dallas, where the sainted Baroque Aunt Rhondda lives, and not back in Eugene in the student co-op. It’s just good to know he’s being fussed over and looked after and taken care of, and other things ending in? prepositions. Interesting to observe how much physical energy was taken up throughout the week by the ordeal of having one’s kid being operated on in a hospital in Dallas, too. Quite tiring.

In yet other news, I read last night at an event called Bookstock III, run by the North London Reading Group. I’m a bit hazy on the details of the reading group, but it was a packed-out room above one of the many pubs in central London called the Blue Posts. Fellow readers included Stuart Evers, author of a new Picador book called Ten Stories About Smoking, and Dutch writer Jan van Mersbergen, with his novel called Tomorrow Pamplona, gorgeously published by Peirene Books. I was very interested in his work – he usually reads 100-200-word pieces, which are on his website, but when I asked him about it I suddenly thought. “Oh, I suppose your website is in Dutch?”


Stuart read a painfully funny story about an old flame in Swindon, and Jan read an intriguing excerpt about a boxer who runs (literally) away from his life, and hitches a lift into a new one – beginning in Pamplona (“a road movie in book form … one of the best books I’ve read this year,” Radio Bremen). Very different but both good.

After that, in the Q&As, a member of the audience asked Jan: “Have you ever been a boxer?”

“No, I haven’t,” Jan said.

“Have you ever been to Pamplona to run with the bulls?”

“No, I haven’t,” Jan replied.

“Have you ever written about something you have done?”

(“Yes,” said Jan. “I’ve written about taking care of sheep.”)

What a shame we weren’t introduced by the Norwegian Ambassador.

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