Sunday, July 3, 2011

A comment about this work

I might have appeared improductive since the first text, but I've spent some time the past month transcribing the interviews with my grandmother. I realize now that there are some difficulties with this project. First of all, it's tricky doing this in English, since my grandmother speaks Swedish to me. She sometimes throws in German or Polish, especially when a bit stirred up from the memories, or because some concept only existed in Germany during the war. This actually makes the story more interesting. Secondly her Swedish is sometimes pretty crude, she sometimes has a grammar similar to Yoda ("Your life is good? Oh, then happy I am"). I grew up hearing her anecdotes spoken like this and so I feel a personal need to preserve this - and English makes it really, really difficult.

But most of all, my grandmother is an amazing story teller. I have a lot of friends who have been sucked into her world by skillfully told anecdotes. She has a range of tricks: narrative structures, gestures and sound effects... And most importantly, she does great impersonations using facial expressions and fantastic voices (she jumps seamlessly between the angry gestapo officer, the tram conductor, and herself at the age of 19). Transcribe that as truthfully as possible and you have a mess on paper. So, it's going to be a process to get it right.

The next step: I'm done transcribing the material I have. It's clear to me that her anectodes do not cover the entire war but are focused on the final years 42-45. There are a lot of holes to fill, including "chapter 2" and I will try to make a new interview during the summer. We don't live in the same city, and she's not too well right now, so it's tricky figuring out the right time. Until then I'll try to work on other parts.

If you made it this far, thanks for following, and don't be shy to come with suggestions!