As my cousin John used to say: It is not that aunt Denise is mad. It’s just that her tongue is connected differently to her brain than with ordinary people. Alas, cousin John is no longer with us – whereas aunt Denise continues to thrive.
Here some of her gems.
My aunt Denise: “Listen. Listen! Something absolutely weird happened to me!
… Oh wait. That wasn’t me… it happened to somebody else.”
How much did you pay for that mixer?
About a hundred bucks.
A hundred bucks?! You can buy a vacuum cleaner for a hundred bucks!
Yeah, but we didn’t need a vacuum cleaner. Besides the mixer came with a lot of extra stuff, funnels and beakers and so on.
What do you need those for if you vacuum the house?
The dog kept on having sex with my knee.
My husband, your uncle, was so mad at me, he locked himself in the upstairs bathroom for an entire week.
Really? How did he survive?
He ate the toothpaste.
At least he had enough to drink.
I turned off the mains, and that forced him come out.
2019 was another record year with 1500 unique visitors and 3000+ views of my website http://www.clemenssuter.com. Many thanks to all friends, fans and followers for their interest in my work and my page/blog. Highly appreciated!
My first experience with the cross-border mail delivery capabilities of the Dutch postal system date back thirty years. I had just moved to Germany, and Dutch friends sent me a gift. The box arrived, but the contents had been removed through a gaping hole in the side. This observation of the damage had been written on the package by a German postal worker at a delivery center on the border. I filed a complaint, with no effect. This was my first encounter with the consistently malfunctioning Dutch postal system, a country that is generally perceived as modern and well-functioning on many other fronts.
Years went by, during which family, friends and I continued to attempt to exchange holiday and birthday gifts across the German / Dutch border. Occasionally my parents sent money hidden in Christmas cards. Although sending money by post within Germany or from Germany to any other country is tricky business (thieves seem to have “magical machines” to detect money hidden in envelopes), no envelope with money ever managed to arrive if sent from the Netherlands. Surprisingly, Christmas cards without money sent at the same time did arrive, although always late. In fact, any letter or package consistently arrived with surprising delays, but also damaged… or not at all.
Not surprisingly, expat friends and I became very weary of the Dutch postal service. Years went by, during which I refused to send any package to and from the Netherlands. In contrast, delivery within Germany or to other countries remained as reliable as ever.
Ultimately, complacency would overcome my concerns, so after a while I would again try to send an occasional birthday present to a Dutch acquaintance. I started to notice an additional worrying phenomenon. Whereas in Germany, the addressee of a package is also the owner of its contents, in the Netherlands it may happen that the initial recipient gains full ownership. So, if the mail delivery service leaves the package with a neighbor (e.g. because the addressee isn’t home), this neighbor may well store this package with disinterest under a pile of coats in the hallway. Then after many weeks, somebody (a child, or a pet) will open the package and eat the edible contents. This lackluster treatment of other people’s belongings, combined with a below par delivery service, has caused much frustration and disappointment over the years.
Since a few years, we rely on a mix of traditional postal services and DHL.NL. There is no distinguishable difference in quality.
Now, some of you will say that I exaggerate, or have no hard evidence. Aha! Since two years, my two sons have moved from Germany; one to Belgium, the other to the Netherlands. Six months ago, I received election-related documents for them, which I sent on the same day to son 1&2. My sons had to sign a document, and return it to Germany. Then, from Germany the voting document was sent to each son, after which both could vote and return the ballot sheet. A complex procedure, that could not be done by email.
Now, a letter to and from Belgium takes about four days for delivery, and this son was able to vote well in time. My son in the Netherlands had no such luck. After all, a letter to and from the Netherlands takes 7, 9 or even 12 days. He missed the deadline miserably and was unable to make use of his right to vote.
After this experience I swore that this was my very final interaction with the Dutch postal system. But my wife was still optimistic. In November, she packed two identical boxes with Christmas presents for both sons. My son in Belgium received the package after 7 days, around December 1st. Christmas came and went, and my son in the Netherlands was still waiting. The package could be traced up to the Dutch border, after which it entered the black hole of the Dutch postal systems.
In a previous post I provided details about the new novel that I am working on: REBOUNCE is the preliminary name of this book and the third and final book in the TWO JOURNEYS trilogy (get a copy of the first two books, for instance on your iPhone / iPad). I am now at 45,000 words, 55,000 to go.
The hero Alan, as tough as nails… combining unrelenting courage, adaptability, compassion and inventiveness – pre-conditions essential to survive in a devastated, post-pandemic world.
Danger lurks around every corner, and not just from humans. To illustrate the man’s resilience: here’s a short sample from the unedited manuscript. DON’T try this at home.
Stay tuned for more.
Part of Chapter 7
Lewis’ eyes explored my face. “What happened to your eye?”
Usually, people ignore the black patch that covers my left eye, they just stare at it curiously, too embarrassed to ask.
“A guy with a knife attacked me.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
I shrugged. “He’s too. I shot him.”
Lewis’ eyebrows went up, a combination of respect and shock. I usually tell anyone who asks me this story. Why not make the best out of the loss of an eye? In addition, the true story was so embarrassingly weird, that nobody ever believed it.
I had at one point made the foolish decision to take a motorbike for a ride. In the absence of humans and pesticides, insects had returned in large numbers and as the engine accelerated onto an unspoiled stretch of highway, I hit into a cloud of fat hornets. One had landed in my eye and stung me multiple times. I fell off the bike and barely made it back to base. The next day, my left eye swelled up beyond recognition. I dragged myself to a drugstore where I camped for a few days, trying out any useful medication or antibiotic that I could find. It was no use; without any help, I suddenly had to decide between dying or operating on myself; the left side of my face was swollen like a red balloon, and the eyeball was gray and obviously invested by an aggressive, unbeatable bug. I pulled a stretcher into a backroom, mounted lights and a mirror above it, and prepared an infusion with a cocktail of salt, painkillers and antibiotics. Lying on my back, I anesthetized half of my face. The next hour was the most horrible in my entire life. On some level, even my wife’s death was by comparison a walk in the park. In my dreams, especially after a heavy meal, I sometimes still see the scalpel approaching my eye. The first incision was excruciating. I shortly passed out from pain and the obnoxious smell of puss and blood that ran down my face. I screamed in horror and shook my head like a wild man. After many minutes I regained some control, and feeling slightly better, I turned my head back to look at my reflection in the mirror. With my gloved hand I opened my half-closed eyelids. The eye itself was gone, the socket a gaping hole, with some ugly bits of tissue and the stump of the nerve in the back. With trembling hands, I rinsed the wound and patched it up with bandages and disinfectant that I had prepared earlier. Then I fainted. It took me six weeks to recuperate.
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The very first book I ever read was an illustrated children’s story about a small duck. I must have been six, I still remember how I struggled with the first page for weeks, until one Sunday morning I suddenly could read it in one go. I was so happy that I woke up my parents. Even after all these years I still have that book, torn and frayed at the edges.
I haven’t stopped reading since. I recall the books of my youth, such as the ones by Jules Verne and Karl May. I read Lord of the Rings when I was 13, and then moved on to science fiction: Asimov and Jack Vance. Many books I have read multiple times: some even 5 or 10 times. Good books never get boring. I started writing myself, and in 2010 I published an adventure novel… about the dreadful effect of a corona pandemic. As an author, I have less time for reading, but I still do manage to read some exiting novels. Luckily enough my wife prereads a lot of new releases and passes the most thrilling ones to me.
Here‘s my personal list of the Best Books Ever! It is in alphabetical order, but you can easily browse or re-order to your liking. Currently it contains 50 titles, but I will add more over time. And yes, my own pandemia books are also in the list, as they have also greatly impacted my life. I hope the list inspires you to pick up some great (classic) fiction and non-fiction. Is any particular favorite of yours missing?
My books and short stories received additional attention, this time in the newspaper Rhein Neckar Zeitung. A great interview about my work and sources of inspiration. The English translation of this German article can be found below. Here is the direct link to this February 1st, 2021 article. Here is the Article as PDF.
Curious about my books? Find them here on Goodreads.
The “Rheinmonster” short is available in English and German. For the English version, refer to the short story bundle “SHORT STORIES”.
English translation of the interview.
Clemens Suter-Crazzolara likes the city of Hockenheim: “I really enjoy living here.” Now he has set a monument to the city with his first horror story “The Rhine Monster”. It’s a mini science fiction book for young and old that is a little scary. It’s about a grandfather who tells his grandchildren a horror story about a dangerous monster. This monster is up to mischief in Hockenheim until two heroes take action against the monster. Will they actually defeat the monster?
That will not be revealed at this point. “It is my first book that I wrote in German,” says Clemens Suter-Crazzolara. So far, the 60-year-old has written three novels in English. It usually finds readers in Great Britain, the USA or Australia. A fourth novel is in the works and should appear later this year.
The author wrote his debut novel ten years ago: “I could no longer hold back the urge to write.” So he regularly got up at 3 or 4 a.m. to sit at his desk. Then he went to work. His first science fiction book is downright prophetic: An epidemic threatens the world. “By chance I chose a corona virus. As the current situation shows, it is one of the viruses that can quickly become dangerous through mutations.” The novel was published in 2011 and was successful. “With the actual Corona crisis, interest has increased again.”
Clemens Suter-Crazzolara actually comes from the Netherlands. Even as a child he loved to write. “I started a novel then,” he says. He still has the fragments. “They’re flying around somewhere.” After school, he had the choice of studying history, journalism or biology. The author decided to study biology. The first professional station was in Switzerland, where Suter did research in cell biology, also on HIV, and afterwards did his doctorate. He remembers the moment when he and colleagues looked at the first batch of HIV viruses delivered from the USA in their tubes: “We had respect for the danger.” He came to the Heidelberg University Clinic via the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and did research on Parkinson’s disease. “I was always on the search for the truth. This is how you advance research in small steps in search of cures.”
When he switched to the IT company SAP, the expert once again dealt with health issues, this time from the perspective of the software industry: “How is it possible, for example, to gain new information from the flood of data?” This know-how about viruses, infections, software programs and data flows into creative writing. Readers can deal with current future topics in an entertaining way.
The author publishes his books himself and markets them on the Internet as paperback and e-books. He is now looking for a publisher to publish his English books in Germany. The horror story of Hockenheim is already written in German. It should be noted that the chairman of the Kunstverein Hockenheim also paints and exhibits pictures. After deducting expenses, Clemens Suter-Crazzolara donates the proceeds from pictures and books to a good cause. “It’s great that I have the opportunity to write and paint – that’s where I want to help other people.”
Info: The e-book “Das Rheinmonster” is available in all eStores for 0.99€.
Exciting news about my new book. In case you have been wondering why I have written only few blogposts over the last months… first, I was very busy with my fundraisers, which managed to raise more than 2500€ for charity through my paintings and books. Then, I was giving several interviews to newspapers about my books, which took up some time time. And next to that I am now working on my FOURTH NOVEL… which will be the final book in the TWO JOURNEYS Trilogy – the grand finale!
TWO JOURNEYS (2010), and the second novel in this series FIELDS OF FIRE (2015) deal with the aftermath of a corona pandemic; these are high-rated post-apocalyptic adventure novels. The third and final installment has the provisional title NIGHT OF SORROWS, and I hope it will hit the (e)book stores before the end of 2021. Research has been taking up considerable time; I had to study the geography of the areas where the novel is situated, spanning two continents, as well as new technological developments – the Internet-of-Things/IoT, Artificial Intelligence, space travel, robotics and more. In 2010, TWO JOURNEYS made a predication about the danger of pandemics and especially corona. My new novel tackles the risk of artificial intelligence for mankind… I don’t want to give away too much at this stage, also as the plot is still developing – let’s see where it may ultimately end.
Currently I am at 25,000 words, so at a about a quarter. I am cranking out 10,000 words a week, probably 2 months more of writing, then re-writing, and then it’s off to the editor. If you would like to pre-read the manuscript, or if you are an editor, feel free to contact me :-) For all those of you that can’t wait until the book is available, below is the first chapter & prologue. Mind, it still has to go through several rounds of editing, this is the raw initialtext. Comments welcome!
Here we go… strap on your seatbelt.
Night of Sorrows / Prologue
First draft. Copyright Clemens P. Suter 2021
Every beginning has its challenges. Every ending too, but at least good endings happen quickly. I stare at the paper in front of me, the handwriting contrasting black against white. A tear, which must have fallen out of my remaining eye, has deformed a written word, like a lens enlarging a crucial yet long forgotten detail. Five pages finished. If I continue writing at this speed, I will have died long before I reach the end.
Over the years I often toyed with the idea of writing down my story, which is exciting by any man’s standards. But there were numerous reasons not to do so. For one, my life left little time for scholarly work. More cynically: an author needs an audience, and is there any audience left? Who will ever read my notes?
The darkness surrounds me like a cloak, only disturbed by the flickering of the candle. I adjust the blanket around my shoulders. A fire roars in the woodburner, but it doesn’t help against the cold. Outside, a snowstorm tears at the walls of the cabin. I tilt my head to listen for sounds. It is deep in the night, early morning almost, hardly the time for any creature to be about. Did I hear something, a distant shout? I chose this hide-out on purpose, far away from any predator’s path. My many years of experience always keep me on full alert; I’ve had too many unhappy encounters with four- or two-legged hunters. I look at the dogs at my feet, but they seem unalarmed. I shrug off any fear and try to retrace the thoughts that passed through my head a few moments ago. Why did I survive so long, while so many died? All my friends and most of my enemies – long gone. The hand that holds the pen is gnarled and covered with the spots of age. I have lost weight and muscle and the hair on my scalp. My back is stooped, my joints hurt in the morning. But I am still here, going like an old clock.
The pandemic devoured humanity, the fallout sterilized the planet: but neither managed to kill me. Was I chosen? Or was I punished? I never was a religious or superstitious man, and deep inside I know that no miracle or lucky star is needed to explain my survival: it is just freak coincidence. I am like the single bacterium that has picked up resistance against an antibiotic, the last tree that remains standing after a forest fire.
For a few moments, my thoughts continue to wander, until they uncomfortably home in on the events of that singular winter, so many years ago. They always do. With all the drama of my past life, those events stick out like a sore thumb, impossible to ignore, blotting out many other memories of my eventful life.
I stand up from my chair, shrugging the blanket from my shoulders and the bad thoughts from my mind. The dogs raise their heads towards me, their eyes gleaming in the dark. Although I feel the need to write down my story, in the hope of expelling the bad taste that it leaves in my mouth, I cannot continue.
Restlessly I pace the cabin. I tilt my head to listen. Finally, I remove the bar open the door. The storm is astonishingly strong, and snow immediately sweeps in. I feel the sting of the cold as the air hits my face. Visibility is low; at the most a few meters. I cannot even sense the valley that lies in front of the cabin. The flame of the candle is blown out, and in the semi-darkness, I see how the papers from my desk are blown out of the cabin and into the white landscape. I laugh madly. The dogs cower close to my legs, tails between their legs. Together we stare into the darkness.
I listen. The wind blows loudly, but I am now convinced that I can hear a sound, far off, irregular and organic. Something is moving out there, something or someone is shouting. Friend or foe, I cannot tell. I grab for the rifle that stands against the wall and I check that is it is loaded.
I remain in the doorframe. Closing the door and putting the bar back on isn’t an option; it never is. The enemy doesn’t rest, they never give up the chase. They continuously circle, pounce, bite and kill without mercy. Likewise, friends are unceasingly in need of help, faltering and hopeless, they lose themselves in the darkness of the night. Fear or compassion; I’m forced to confront any obstacle, to handle any challenge, swiftly and if need be mercilessly.
I slip into my coat and I put on my moth-eaten woolhat and gloves. I stuff a torch into my pocket. The wind picks up speed. The darkness is now complete; no sign of a rising sun, stars nor moon.
The snow stings in my eyes as we step from the door into the wild white vortex, gun raised, dogs barking. I feel how my teeth bare themselves in a menacing grin. No matter how old I get, no matter how much these old bones hurt, by everything holy and unholy, throw it at me, life.