Archive for December, 1998
The former newspaper reporter Jari Tervo (born 1959), now a successful novelist and quiz-show celebrity, writes about the seamier side of life. His subjects are mostly petty criminals and losers, but his crisp language is always a winner. And he can find a story even in a pork chop…. A short story from Taksirengin rakkaus (‘The love of the taxi-driver’, WSOY, 1998)
The shopkeeper ran after the thief and caught him. The people in the parking lot of the S-Market made a fuss. The thief took fright when he found himself grasped by the scruff of the neck by a man the size of a baseball player. The shopkeeper removed the thief’s stomach. It turned out to be a packet of pork chops. They were not on special offer.
The thief stammered. The shopkeeper just had time to think that was the worst thing after snivelling when the thief started to snivel. The shopkeeper began to feel infuriatingly sorry for the thief’s arm, which was in a sling. Even his clothes were ugly. He let the thief go with a kick. I’m too good to be a shopkeeper, the shopkeeper thought delightedly, thanked the onlookers for their applause and put the packet of chops back on the shelf, where it was bought by a housewife. More…
Extracts from the novel Benjamins bok (‘Benjamin’s book’, Schildts, 1997)
There are people who feel they are in contact with the stars. Among those who carry their secret knowledge around with them are both the healthy and the ‘sick’. Now I remember Olli stretching his arm out towards the evening star and seeming to greet it. For others, for me, the starry heavens are a form of distant vertigo. All those milky ways and galaxies, how could they not be inhabited, have developed a culture far older than our own. Perhaps they have watched the development of our planet with distaste, and are waiting for its ruin, which according to their calculation of time will take place in a few years or days from now. If I listen closely I seem to be faintly approached by a celestial choir, composed of indistinct sounds; if I stand on a lonely road in the country, and look up at the sky, the light and faint murmur from a nearby town emerge, and can be separated from the faint voices of the starry heavens. It is probably just my imagination. Perhaps it is an extension of that voice – anonymous, quiet – that I hear when I read a book. A good book is audio-visual. And no harm is done if it gives the reader a mild sense of vertigo. More…
From Gården (‘The courtyard’, 1969)
The brown tablecloth hung over the edge.
I sat below there unseen in the odour of cabbage and warmth.
The sky hung on rusty hooks, the women of the courtyard shrank.
They were the only flowers the summer had.
They carried pails to the back yard where there was no sun.
Father read the newspaper, in the middle drawer of the writing table were
bills, promissory notes, pawn tickets, the rent book, everything in order. More…