Archive for March, 2002

From Bosnia with love

31 March 2002 | Authors, Reviews

Daniel Katz

Photo: Pertti Nisonen

Daniel Katz’s new novel Laituri matkalla mereen (‘A jetty to the sea’, WSOY, 2001), tells the story of the impossible romance between the Bosnian wife of a blind Finnish colonel and a history teacher. Introduction by Tuva Korsström

At some point 250 years ago, a Swedish monarch decided to grant town status to some villages in the estuary of Kuhnusjoki (‘Sluggish river’) on the south-west coast of Finland.

There the little town lies today and is, with its environs, the setting for Daniel Katz’s novel Laituri matkalla mereen (‘A jetty to the sea’). It’s the late 1990s, early autumn, and this year the autumn gales come early. The history teacher Henry Loimu goes down to the bank of the river to repair his jetty in the gusts of wind. More…

Blind man’s buff

31 March 2002 | Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Laituri matkalla mereen (‘A jetty to the sea’, WSOY, 2001)

Ten steps along the path marked out by the poet

In a gravel pit illegally dug by the sand-king Gropius and later abandoned, the colonel and Henry were shooting at tin cans with pistols. The pit neighboured the Colonel’s home, and he was in the habit of carrying out target practice there with the help of Jovan, to keep his hand in.

The cans were placed at twenty-metre intervals in front of a sandbank and were raised on coil springs, so they swayed freely in the air. Each of them was attached to a long line; this, when pulled, swayed the cans, rattling stones inside them. Following the sound, the colonel identified the can’s position, aimed and fired. The hits he heard himself, the misses usually struck the pieces of hardboard behind the cans. These were divided up dartboard-fashion into sectors and rings, and Jovan used binoculars to spot the hits on them and announce the points of impact as clock-numbers and distances from the can’s central position, enabling the colonel to correct his aim. This he did with the aid of a rake. He held the rake upright, prongs downwards, so that its handle stood roughly perpendicular to the ground. Moving the handle sideways with careful estimation, and sliding his pistol hand up or down on the handle, he was able to make corrections with reasonable accuracy and determine his aim. More…

Words of feeling

31 March 2002 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Vain tahallaan voi rakastaa (‘You can only love deliberately’, WSOY, 2001)

The musicians of Bremen (Self-portrait as a five animals)

People say man’s above all the other beasts.
I decided to prove that – and first turned poet
and then painfully became a flying horse, celebrating its freedom
on great shivering brawn. They captured me and put me to pulling
loads, and, seeing I endured everything docilely, they said,
He’s like the Giant Atlas, or Hanuman, the upholder of the world.
And they whipped me and sat on my back and finally
buried me alive. I became a pig and gorged my bellyful and my senses full
and it horrified people, who said: He’s a disease, an epidemic, Death itself.
And they cut my ears and blinded me and sliced my belly in two.
And I turned into a dog and learned everything I was taught and they said,
He’s completely without a will, like the angels, like an ascetic, and a prophet.
And they drove me out to wander the streets and the wildernesses. And in the desert
I turned into a tiger and people shouted in terror
What on earth
has God done – look, he’s Satan himself. And they shot me
from an elephant’s back. And I died into a cock and people woke up and shouted,
The healer of the world! And whenever I sing, because I only sing untold-to,
People wring my neck. More…

Head first into literary stardom

Issue 1/2002 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Reidar Palmgren has described his first novel as ‘a story about father and son, swimming, cycling, hi-fi electronics and ghosts’.

Palmgren has had frequent opportunities to talk about his definition, as Jalat edellä (‘Feet first’). He has become a popular guest in libraries, book shops and on television programmes, the novel was awarded the Helsingin Sanomat Literary Prize for the best first work in 2001, it has been selling well and the rights have already been sold for a translation into Swedish. More…

Losing it

Issue 1/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Jalat edellä (‘Feet first’, Otava 2001). Introduction by Kanerva Eskola

Once he had sat in the car for a while Risto could feel his thoughts slowly becoming clearer. Tero had been killed by a lorry. He couldn’t think particularly actively about it but perhaps he could have said it out loud. After all, people often say all kinds of things that they don’t think. Maybe even too often, he wondered and decided to have a go.

‘Tero is dead,’ he said and the words tasted of preserved cherries.

In the changing room at the swimming pool Risto noticed that his swimming trunks and towel were mouldy. He had forgotten to hang them up to dry after the last time he went swimming. That was a thousand years ago and now a bluish grey fur was growing on them. He examined the bitter smelling mould on his trunks; the fur was beautiful, smooth and silky like a rabbit’s coat. He gently stroked his trunks. I can use these for ice swimming, he decided, and began to chuckle quietly to himself.