Reidar Jönsson: Rewriting His Life

Originally published in Scanorama – April 1992 (Scandinavian Airlines’ Inflight Magazine)

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Reidar Jönsson. Public domain (Wikipedia)

Swedish author Reidar Jönsson whose book, My Life as a Dog, was the basis of Lasse Hallström’s acclaimed film, is busier than ever. With a new book – My Father, His Son, a sequel to My Life as a Dog­ just out in the United States, he is currently doing a screen treatment of it.

Born in 1944 in southern Swe­den, Jönsson published numerous screenplays, theater pieces, poetry and books before gaining public attention with My Life as a Dog. Ironically, he originally had no de­sire to see this book turned into a film and admits to making the story line so complex and difficult that it would be a challenge to transform it into a movie. Luckily, his compa­triot Hallström picked up the chal­lenge and the result was a film nominated for an Academy Award.

Writing is a slow process for Jönsson, who spends winters in Los Angeles and summers in southern Sweden. He says that some of the sections of his new book were written in the 1970s but were not developed. Much of the material in the first two books of what will eventu­ally become a trilogy has been drawn from Jönsson’s own experi­ences.

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Front cover of Scanorama, April 1992

However, though it is easy to find similarities in the lives of the books’ main character, Ingemar Johansson, Jönsson firmly rejects any resemblance, stressing that he is writing fiction, not autobiogra­phy. “It is true that I used episodes from my own life when I wrote the books, but I am rewriting my life as I would have liked it to be,” he says.

As for the movie sequel to My Life as a Dog, Jönsson and his Amer­ican wife, Donna, are determined to organize their own financing in order to retain artistic control. “I want to recognize the story when the movie is done,” says Jönsson.

Sidebar: If you want to know more about the back-story to this article, please click here.

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