A study in loneliness, attention, and consequences: Sonia meets an admirer online and eventually can’t escape his control.
Spanish novelist Mesa (Mala Letra, 2016, etc.) writes of Sonia, who works a purposeless data entry job and wants to feel that her life has meaning. She meets Knut in a literary forum, and the two take their relationship into the realm of long emails (mostly Knut’s). Knut lavishes Sonia with letters and boxes of gifts: books, perfume, lingerie, and high-end clothing. Sonia has misgivings but doesn’t back away. She “isn’t truly curious about Knut. What attracts her is knowing that she’s the recipient of his attention.” “There’s a sort of agreement established,” and the terms are that Sonia will ceaselessly indulge him. As Sonia’s house fills with a glut of presents, Knut wields his strongest weapon, the ability to dominate Sonia’s thoughts. He tells her she should become a writer, but that suggestion is pregnant with expectation. “I sense plenty of talent in you…” he writes. “If you were more consistent—and less lazy—you’d be a great writer.” Knut wants to control Sonia’s input and output: what she reads and what she produces. Tension builds as each gift comes with a greater set of expectations. Sonia recognizes the nefariousness of Knut’s requests and knows that his gifts are stolen, but she can’t give up his admiration. Knut preys on her desire to please and be seen. She says, “He seemed so excited to send [the gifts] to me….How could I reject them? It would have been cruel.” Knut’s requests for vicarious pleasure increase until they drive Sonia from her comfort zone, but at a price.
A taut and disturbing tale of inspiration which poses questions about the darker material we draw on for art.