The power of a good story.
Is it possible to sell books in today’s financial climate? Experienced publisher Dorotea Bromberg, who founded the publishing company Brombergs in 1975 with her father, thinks so. “Finding good books is not hard,” she says. “It is how to sell them that’s difficult.” The secret behind Dorotea Bromberg’s success is her personal engagement, her stubbornness and a stream of words. She can talk the most unwilling and suspicious book dealer into buying. Brombergs is a publishing company that has some of the most prestigious authors, including a couple of Nobel Prize winners. “The point is to find books that are different,” Bromberg says. When she found the book “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts, she fell in love with it. Another publisher wanted it, too, and it was a fight to get the Swedish rights. “Buying the Swedish rights for that book was expensive,” she says, “quite expensive. Not to mention the translation for the 944-page long novel. But we have gotten all our money back and then some.” Most publishers in Sweden today bank on thrillers, not so Brombergs. “We have chosen not to, we just go our own way. Good story tellers survive, whether they are Swedish or not.” Luck, timing and stubbornness, these are important qualities in a market that is unsure and sometimes lost. “You have to survive even when you do not have any luck, you can’t give up. And say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ – it’s much more fun.” Bromberg admits she’d rather make the wrong decision than making no decision at all. “I am very impatient, which is tough on my family and colleagues. But I like to see things done. I like to see results. And it often boils down to oneself, to one’s own engagement.”

With melancholy as a constant companion.
Dagens Nyheter hooked up with Benny Andersson, of ABBA fame, and discovered a friendly man who uses snus (snuff) and is somewhat sentimental. “Rarely do people want to talk to me about music these days,” says Andersson. “Mostly they ask how it feels to have (the musical) ‘Mamma mia!’ be such a success or what I will do next.” Andersson, like most musicians with a genius, is not very narrow-minded music wise. Case in point: He used Oskar Lindberg’s pretty “Gammal fädbodspsalm” as an intro to ABBA’s “Voulez-vous” during their world tour in 1979. “I did that because I wanted the audience to know where we were from, that we had grown up with Swedish folk music. And sure, the melancholia too, I carry a lot of that. Even in songs that are seemingly happy ones, like ‘Honey, honey’, ‘Mamma mia!’ and ‘Dancing Queen’, there’s a certain melancholy, but it’s well hidden behind all the choirs and arrangements.” Benny Andersson comes across as a warm person with a good memory for music. “I don’t know my jazz, or my soul, or my blues. But I feel very much at home in the Swedish music tradition. I could never live abroad, and much of that has to do with how the music here at home sounds.” Benny Andersson listens to Edvard Grieg, to a piece known in English as “The last spring”. “Oh, this is dynamite,” he says. “Look the hairs on my arms are standing on end. The way this sounds is how I feel inside… Perhaps all music and art that is of some quality has this kind of melancholy as a foundation. I think most of all, art exists as comfort for us people and that all good music point a bit at the experience of being alive, of existing.” Andersson began early, he received a piano from his parents when he was ten and immediately took to playing it. So much so, that he practiced on the school’s piano during breaks at school, and when he came home, he immediately sat down at his own piano. He says: “Bach once said ‘I have had to be hard-working, whoever is as hard-working as I will come as far.’ There’s such warmth in what he did, I always listen to Bach. And I like that quote, because if you practice enough and don’t give up, then you will see results. It also takes a certain amount of talent. Writing a song isn’t something you do in a few minutes, it takes time. In 45 years I have written around 24 albums, that is 16 hours worth of music. That boils down to 20 minutes of music – per year.” He says he know what kind of power exists in a melody and that it is a privilege to work with something that has influenced so many people so much. “The best thing is to keep a melody as simple as possible and then dress it up later. It also has to differ from all other melodies, and I do mean every other melody, that’s a question of honor. But I don’t know if I have always been successful with that.”

President Kennedy’s Swedish affair.
Former U.S. president John F. Kennedy had an affair with a Swedish flight attendant, according to a new book based on interviews with current and former Secret Service agents. According to ex-agent Robert Lutz, President Kennedy took a liking to a Swedish Pan Am Flight attendant who was riding on the press pool airplane, which typically follows US presidents while they travel. While Lutz, who was assigned to the press plane, had initially planned to ask the good-looking Swede out for dinner, members of the Secret Service detail assigned to President Kennedy told Lutz to back off. “She’s part of the president’s private stock,” the head of the president’s Secret Service detail told Lutz, according to an account in the book reported on by the New York Post. The book, entitled “In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect”, is written by former Washington Post reporter Ronald Kessler and set for release on August 4th.

Lingonberry and blueberry smoothie.
We like this for a light summery breakfast or for a snack. For four portions: 1 cup frozen blueberries, half a cup lingonberries, 1.5 cups vanilla or honey yoghurt, 1 ripe banana. Put all ingredients in a blender, pour into glasses and serve right away.

Swedish men - the best husbands.
A new study shows that Swedish men’s enlightened attitudes toward equality and gender roles make them among the best potential husbands in the developed world. The study found that Sweden is the most egalitarian society of the 12 developed countries examined by Oxford University economist Almudena Sevilla-Sanz. As a result, Swedish men are also more inclined to pitch in with household chores such as cooking, doing the laundry and cleaning compared with their counterparts in less egalitarian societies. Thus Swedish men make a better catch for women seeking to settle down with a reliable and helpful partner. A distant second behind Sweden in sevilla-Sanz’s ranking of egalitarian societies, was Norway, followed by Northern Ireland, England, and the U.S. Japan and Austria were tied for the lowest ranking on the list of egalitarian societies. The study, which was published this year in the Journal of Population Economics, also reveals that in more egalitarian countries there is less of a social stigma against men taking on what may be traditionally considered “women’s work”. As a result, men in egalitarian societies feel they can more easily participate in household work, according to Sevilla-Sanz, increasing the likelihood of them finding a partner and setting up a well-functioning household. While men and women living in more egalitarian countries have a higher probability of forming a household, the study also shows that such households need not be based on a marriage relationship, per se. ccording to Sevilla-Sanz’s findings, about half as many Swedes believe that married people are happier than non-married people when compared with respondents from less egalitarian countries like Japan and Australia.

Gotland governor resigns.
Marianne Samuelsson, Gotland county governor, has been forced to step down from her post after she was taped arguing that a local businessman should receive preferential treatment for plans to extend his property in a protected beachside area.

Swedish Agnes on British charts.
Four years ago, Agnes Carlsson won “Idol” (the Swedish version of “American Idol”). Now we find her on top of British charts, and she is ready to take over the rest of Europe too. “Apart from conveying messages about love an party in my songs, I want to pass on a message of strength. I know many young girls look up to me, and I feel proud about that.” Agnes, who is 21 years old, has had a busy life since she won “Idol”. “Before I had never worked with music, and now I have done so for four years and I know what I want. I can enjoy it now.” Her song “Release me” has been a hit for a while. “Last weekend when I performed in Leeds there were 50,000 people in the audience and they all sang along with me. That just felt like…aaahhh!” For more on Agnes check out