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Axel Thormählen

Axel Thormählen was born in Northern Germany just after the end of World War II. A trained bookseller, he has lived in a village in the south of Sweden for most of his life but...

A Happy Man and Other Stories

Axel Thormählen

translated by Marianne Thormählen
Introduction by Judith Freeman
Cover art by Danielle Adair
Book 4 of 5, TrenchArt Parapet Series
Fiction | $15.00
ISBN 13: 978-1-934254-04-2
Size: 9.25″ X 4.25″
Pages: 103
Binding: Softcover, Perfect


A Happy Man and Other Stories or/oder Der Glückliche und andere Erzählungen draws together nine short stories by German author Axel Thormählen. Jochen, the title story’s hero, is a man content in the face of others’ discontent and their foolish fear of mortality. Like Jochen, many of Thormählen’s characters live within deceptively simple, but impossibly profound, movements, accepting the happy limits of life. Judith Freeman asks in her introduction, “though we are drained, hunted to death, and out of breath, is [Jochen] not still, are we not all, happy men?” Thormählen’s great achievement is that his stories move as much toward the answer as the question, but in the end leave both untouched and unrelenting.

A Happy Man and Other Stories is published as part of the TrenchArt: Parapet Series, translated by Marianne Thormählen with an introduction by Judith Freeman and visual art by Danielle Adair.

Praise for A Happy Man and Other Stories or/oder Der Glückliche und andere Erzählungen

“The unique quality of Axel Thormählen’s stories lies in their integrity of subject, action, and expression. They refuse to be dissected or peeled like an onion. Each is a jewel in one’s hand, a luminous presence to be acknowledged whole.” 

– Thomas Vargish, author of Inside Modernism: Relativity Theory, Cubism, Narrative

“A delightful, unusual, highly individual book, with a gentle wisdom, sometimes disturbing or amusing or both, but always very distinctive. I enjoyed it, story by story, greatly, but the total atmosphere exceeds the sum of its parts.”

– Claude Rawson, author of God, Gulliver and Genocide and editor ofThe Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, IV

“Thormählen…writes carefully constructed, almost peaceful sentences that feel at once natural and weightless; the resulting stories have an effortlessness to them that belies the sometimes profound meditations lodged just below their seemingly straightforward surfaces.”

Brian Evenson, The Review of Contemporary Fiction