October 5 – Stig’s birthday.
A hectic day on his paternal grandparents’ small farm, because it was in the middle of the potato harvest. And here was this girl from one of the towns up north, pregnant by one of the farmer’s sons, ready to give birth “when there was so much to do!” … Some weeks later, she was gone.
As a child, Stig forever fantasizes about his mother returning:
“I sat down by the gate and watched the women bicycling past … But I knew that some day one of them would put on her brakes, jump off and lift me up.”
But Stig’s mother never came. Much later she told me, with obvious pain, that she thought this was the best for her son. Stig did not meet her until he was already a published writer. They never became close.
So what about Stig’s dad?
“At Christmas there were little bears or toy cars that one could wind up. They came from Stockholm and from a father whom I had never seen and always made up stories about.” Eventually, however, Stig joins his father in Stockholm so he can continue his schooling.
I had only grandparents.”
How do events like these shape us?
Is it the burning longing after parents that helps a small child develop his imaginary powers?
Was Stig’s unresolved relationship with his mother one reason for his long fight with depression?
Does Stig’s desperate search for freedom stem from a sense of existential loneliness?
Researchers have probed these questions. What we do know, is that Stig used his own life and emotions in his writing. In the novel A Burnt Child, for example, he explores a young man’s confusion of a mother figure with a lover.
All quotes are from the essay “A Child’s Memoirs” included in the short story collection The Games of Night.