Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
Swedish sex god seduces librarian?
In a sense. Benny and Shrimp is the story of an unlikely love. It came out in Sweden in 1998 and became a mass seller, then when it was published in the US it took off there. Now it’s about to explode here.
A love fated to be?
Pretty unlikely, really. In the graveyard, Desirée is gazing sadly and resentfully at her husband’s starkly designed grave while Benny tends his parents’ over-the-top grave of frills and marble and plastic flowers, and they dislike each other on sight. Then they smile at each other, and Zowee!
Ah yes. Benny is a dairy farmer crushed by a 16-hour day tending cows, clearing manure, fixing tractors, doing accounts, paying the vet, working in the forest, with no one to help. Desirée, or Shrimp as he nicknames her, is a serious intellectual with a career in the library.
So he needs a different kind of woman?
And she needs a different kind of man. Benny needs a sonsy farmgirl who knows how to make meatballs with lingonberry sauce from berries she’s gathered herself, and keep the farmhouse trim, and back the tractor and baler while he’s loading. Desirée needs a Lacan-discussing cafe lizard.
But then how…?
One smile, and next thing she’s fondling his blond curls and they’re having wild experimental sex all over the place. He buys her birthday presents - butterfly-shaped soap, a mouth organ, silly earrings, mauve tights -
Wait! Wait! What was that about sex?
Oh, lots of sex. Funny sex too, better still. And the story! A real page-turner, with nice subplots as well - one of the librarians keeps files and photos on colleagues; a friend loves a bad man who does her wrong.
But a happy ending?
The weirdest ending you could imagine, and morally equivocal, to say the least. But I won’t spoil it for you. Go and buy it pronto. It’s wonderful.
Author page for Penguin (Mazetti's US publisher)