Archive for December, 2003

Toward good management practice

Issue 4/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from the collection Värjättyä rakkautta (‘Dyed love’, Otava, 2003). Introduction by Harry Forsblom

Because queries from the field have recently been received concerning the allocation of investment resources in our production facility in a business environment that is undergoing pressures for change, we have in close collaboration with other production organisations, drawn up a booklet on good management practice whose intention is in broad outline and by production sector to delineate in what way the current market situation should be taken into account in the practising of our trade.

The booklet Toward good management practice. Functional spatial planning, utility-oriented measures and allocation of production aims, in keeping with its subtitle, to present, by utility sector, the latest research-based knowledge in the field and thus offer our membership aids to decision-making in designing organisational innovations that demand investment. More…

Totalitarian tendencies

Issue 4/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Olli Jalonen is a master at creating a sense of dystopia, alienation and what it feels like to end up in the wrong place. He skilfully homes in on aspects of our everyday reality which resemble totalitarian tendencies, underlining them and their deadly implications through understatement, and by setting them in environments which are either utopian or skilfully alienated, seemingly realistic and neutral.

Jalonen is not a true satirist, but he has a flair for depicting people’s motives and changes in their identities in situations exploring the boundaries of ‘the normal’. Circumstances which unwittingly uphold repulsive social control, modifying human values, circumstances in which people die, into which they are forced, or against which they lamely revolt, are at the heart of Jalonen’s work. Equally important is the documentary-style reportage of the lives of people who are in danger of being forgotten about by history. More…

Living with Her Ladyship

Issue 4/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the memoir of a Helsinki childhood, Från Twenty Gold till Kent (‘From Twenty Gold to Kent’, Schildts, 2003). Introduction by Pia Ingström

My hair was dark and stuck up from my skull like little nails. My face was furrowed with red, my throat was wrinkled and I didn’t even have a pretty navel. This was because Daddy had to knot my umbilical cord himself while the obstetrician was busy on the ground floor with an appendix.

‘She looks like a forty-year-old errand-boy from the newspaper’s office: Daddy announced.

Mummy said she hoped I would soon change and have a long neck.

At Apollogatan street we took the lift up to the third floor where my sisters were waiting with the new nanny. They had no chance to welcome me with singing as they’d planned because both Renata and Catherine had colds. Nobody was going to be allowed to breathe anywhere near me, Mummy and Nanny were entirely agreed on that. More…

Outside the goldfish bowl

Issue 4/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Agneta von Koskull was born in 1947 into an aristocratic family in Helsinki – which, in post-war Finland, did not involve any great economic luxury. Her father, Baron Erik von Koskull, worked at the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper as a correspondent in the advertising department, while her mother Elsa, née Behm, ‘minded the till’ at a shipping company. Agneta and her two older sisters were looked after first by their beloved nanny, Dodo, and later by a series of more or less unsuitable home helps and an eccentric uncle. More…

Music of the heart

30 December 2003 | Authors

Raija Siekkinen

Photo: Irmeli Jung

The short stories of Raija Siekkinen (1953–2004) – she very rarely wrote long fiction – are almost always about women. Something has happened, or is about to happen, vague, unspecified. The change is all-engulfing, and often to do with men. Memories are summoned, or stirred, in the effort to face the future.

‘Throughout the day, memories re-entered her mind, densely, as if in a high fever, drifting from one image to the next, aimless, directionless,’ runs the narrative in the title story from her collection Kuinka rakkaus syntyy (‘How love begins’ 1991), ‘and somewhere behind the clear realisation that moments are long, endlessly expanding, and life is short.’ Resolution, if any is offered, often lies beyond the end of the story, beyond the printed page, in the mind and heart of the reader. More…

Time difference

30 December 2003 | Fiction, Prose

A short story from Kalliisti ostetut päivät (Dearly bought days, Otava, 2003)

She arrived at the airport too early, as always. The reason was not that connections from the small town in which she lived were slow and difficult, or even that she liked the airport’s atmosphere of swift departures and long waits. No; she wanted to spend time at the airport to see that the planes took off and landed without anything awful happening. She wanted to see that a departing plane’s acceleration was rapid, that the plane left the asphalt of the runway elegantly, that its tail did not hit the ground as it rose, break, the plane explode, catch fire, but that, like an arrow fired into the air, following its flight path, it curved upward and, sunlight glancing off the metal of the body, disappeared from view. She wanted to see that the landing gear of a descending plane was out, as it should be, that a tyre did not burst as it hit the ground, at that there was no ice or oil on the runway; that the brakes worked, and that the fire engines at the edge of the airfield stayed in place as a sign that all was well. More…


30 December 2003 | Authors, Reviews

Saila Susiluoto

Photo: Irmeli Jung

Stanza is, of course, Italian for ‘room’, and Saila Susiluoto’s second volume, Huoneiden kirja, is a book of rooms. The 17th-century English poet John Donne said: ‘We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms’; Susiluoto’s poems are prose poems, not sonnets – but imaginary rooms with real feelings in them. They’re not pretty either, but beautiful, furnished with lyrical echoes, echoing with experience.

The protagonist is a girl, but there are many other personae, women, men, children: ‘Sorrow’s walked through me in the shape of people.’ The personae think there are many ways to walk through things, or towards them. They follow the signs they find on their way – from the ground floor (partly underground) of a draughty house up to the sixth floor (fifth in English), which also floats.

Behind the shining mirror twin girls are squealing, they disappeared inside the walls long ago… Inside us there are two hundred girl-embryos, the girls shout….

The girls are hand-made: fashioned by themselves – ‘like us’ – ‘out of pearls, blood, splinters of mirror’. More…

Nothing but light

30 December 2003 | Fiction, poetry

Prose poems from Huoneiden kirja (‘A book of rooms‘, Otava, 2003)

The ladies’ room

Behind the shining mirror twin girls are squealing, they disappeared inside the walls long ago. They had plaits, red pompons, bad moods – all of them moulded and twisted by wire coathangers from the very start. They gouged the house full of passageways, they hollowed out the paper walls with silver christening-spoons. They disappeared between the stairs on the staircase, saying: evil’s a gateway onto a void with hundreds of gateways inside. Now they’re in this room, behind this mirror. Now the sun’s rising over the firtree-tops, creeping step by step higher towards the overarching sky. Inside us there are two hundred girl-embryos, the girls shout, they’re handicrafts fashioned by themselves like us: out of pearls, blood, splinters of mirror, it’s these we were made of. If you don’t find us, you’ll not sleep a single night. Until you do you’ll wander about the house, astray with each memory, until your hands are thinner than your words, the days slenderer than your hands. More…