In a series of interviews that span for a longer period, we learn to know the man behind the computer. This time our reporter has taken the train down to Österlen where we meet Peter Stein in his writing house by the sea.
It was cold. Significantly cooler than the Stockholm I left the day before. I thought briefly about my warm jacket, which I stupidly had left at home. To further aggravate the situation, we had a headwind. A sustained morning breeze that chilled us down during our walk along the beach.
Peter Stein insisted that we “stretch our legs” before we started the interview. Actually, I’d have preferred if we didn’t. The temperature that had fallen during the night was one thing, but the cold was magnified by the stiff breeze coming off the sea. But as a guest it would be unfortunate to point out this and to be honest, it requires its man to stand up against Peter Stein. He possesses a certain gravity, this man, and I found it good to not discuss the matter further.
And I do not regret the promenade. The environment and the scenery here are undoubtedly amazing. It is easy to understand why he is constantly coming back to get inspiration for his books.
The unpretentious house with the stunning location.
Just before both legs were frozen, Peter Stein decided to finish the walk and we returned. Like the house cat, I was glad to reach the cottage and hear the door shut behind me again. When the coffee was poured and the life sands began to return, we sat at an old scratched kitchen table. He picked up an ancient briar pipe and knocked the cold ashes into the ashtray. I picked up my notebook and sought eye contact with him.
MS: Should we get started with the interview itself?
PS: Yes, you … Before we do that, I want to start by questioning the validity of this child’s play that you call an “interview.”
MS: I do not think I understand … What do you mean?
PS: I mean you’re a fucking scam artist, who sits and fools people that we are in a cabin at Österlen, interviewing an imaginary author, who you call Peter Stein.
MS: That was an interesting opening. I do not think I’ve been with it at any previous interview. So you mean that the self does not exist?
PS: Listen. You damn retard. Write what crap you want, it doesn’t bother me. But please. Please do not start metaphysical discussions. The last of that kind, I had before I was twenty years old and it was boring even then.
MS: Okay, I promise. But can you explain what you mean by ‘imaginary’ …?
PS: And one more thing. Your tone. If you try that again with me, I’ll smack you right there in the eye. True as I live and breathe there will be a shiner the size of a plate. Is that understood?
MS: I understand. Apologize.
PS: Do you know what? You can take your excuse and put it up somewhere where the sun don’t shine. I’m so tired of you young bucks. Is there no journalist who has been taught ordinary manners?
MS: As I said, I apologize. It was not my intention to …
PS: Do you know what? This interview is over. Just get back to your hole. Come on! Get!
A while later I am on the X2000 in the direction of Stockholm. Feeling awkward and thinking about the strange “interview”. Certainly, I can understand that artists can be odd and have a temper, no problem.
But this … It’s like Peter Stein balances on a razor blade, constantly on guard not to hurt himself, yet ready to swipe at anyone within arm’s reach.
And the editor back at the paper? The one who’s waiting for a profound “feature” about the phenomenon Peter Stein for the Sunday extra. Should I give him the five sentences I managed to get out of Stein? Maybe I can build on some of my impressions during the trip here? And I could mention Peter Stein’s very odd way to constantly use the f-word as he talks. Yes. Then I have two, maybe three sections. But an article in the Sunday attachment is typically five.