Archive for September, 1996

How I saved the world for communism

Issue 3/1996 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Kreisland (WSOY, 1996). Rosa Liksom’s first novel is a picaresque story of a heroine whose adventures range through Finland, Soviet Russia and America. Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

Maid Agafiina: Got myself some shiny black rubber boots, the kind with the red felt lining, and a colorful crepe de chine dress and a rayon coat, and while shopping for all that I checked out the four wonders of Moscow: a bell that doesn’t ring, a cannon you can’t fire, a ruler who doesn’t speak, and money that doesn’t stink.

In no time at all I made up a new personality, learned the language real good, and obtained a Soviet citizen’s passport. I was totally excited by everything I’d seen. My cheeks were as red as the flag. I wanted to find out about everything and see every achievement of this huge Soviet land. More…


Issue 3/1996 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Erotus (WSOY, 1995). Introduction by Lauri Otonkoski

As the future First Mate dreams, embryonic sails in his eyes
and runs, a rat, from one ship to the next in the harbor, so I saw my image in the imago
pushing out of its chrysalis under my father’s hand that held the lens.
His other hand rested on my shoulder like a wing,
‘Resurrection!’ he cried out, and I felt my heart tumble.
And there it was: Parnassius Apollo or Parnassius Mnemosyne mnemosyne
on the glass slide, straightening its flying gear,
and a moment later, a narcotized, trembling piece of jewelry.
I handed my father a shiny pin, and he pushed it skillfully
through the body. Daylight adhered to the collection.
For the duration of the blink of an eye, all butterfly wings breathed. More…

A day in the life

Issue 3/1996 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Drakarna över Helsingfors (‘Kites over Helsingfors’, Söderströms, 1996). Introduction by Jyrki Kiiskinen

It is December 1970, it is Friday afternoon and Helsingfors is shrouded in a damp, leaden-grey fog when Jacke Pettersson, trainee electrician at Mid-Nyland Vocational College, signs a receipt for his driving licence at Vallgård Police Station.

At home in the flat in Svenska Gården in Munkshöjden: the very next evening Jacke sneaks his hand down into his father’s, typesetter K-G. Pettersson’s, overcoat pocket. It is getting on for 9 o’clock and KG is sitting deeply submerged in his favourite armchair, staring concentratedly at the premiere of a new show.

Six out of forty
make it every week

sings a bright girl’s voice.

Then: the Official Supervisors and their solemn ‘Good evening’. And then: the blonde girl in her mini-dress and high boots, the glass holder with its plastic balls, the plastic balls with numbers on. More…

tulip, ‘tulip’, and Tulip

Issue 3/1996 | Archives online, Authors

There are times when, on first reading, an entire collection of poems seems anchored to a single line. The overture to Annukka Peura’s Erotus* (1995) ends with such a crystallized moment:

I pulled the curtains aside,
and there, behind the green-
speckled glass,

was the 20th century.

This expansive sigh became instantly memorable; the landscape it offers is so vast. Most works of art have, in addition to their title, some detail, line, or moment for which a space is reserved in one’s memory, privileged above the work’s other components. For me, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is represented by the adagietto’s veiled, secretive life, the cathedral at Chartres consists neither of the enormity of its towers nor the abundance of its rosette, but of the sacristy’s specific odor of sacral dust. More…

Goodbye to all that

Issue 3/1996 | Archives online, Authors

It is a couple of years since the appearance of Monika Fagerholm’s Underbara kvinnor vid vatten (’Wonderful women at the sea’), which has been bought by a number of foreign publishers. Now Fagerholm’s nostalgic and accurated description of the moodscape of the 1960s has received a companion volume which records the objects of the 1970s and opens the dark record and clothes cupboards of a different young person.

Kjell Westö’s Drakama över Helsingfors (’Kites over Helsingfors’) is, nevertheless, more extended in its trajectory than Fagerholm’s novel because it reveals how the events of the 1990s were included in the values of the 1970s and were born directly from them. More…

Happy endings

Issue 3/1996 | Archives online, Authors

‘In the beginning was a bright lake, and
 the gloomy night moved on the surface 
of the water’, Rosa Liksom begins: from 
the lake of her hitherto urban, grimly
 comic short prose there now rise a
 cloud of mosquitoes, a reindeer and a
 group of Lapp heroes, and lo! Kreisland is born, the cosmos of a new
book and at the same time her first 

The path of the heroine of Kreisland,
 Impi (‘Maid’ or, more literally, ‘Virgin’),
 Agafiina, from a wretched black ramshackle hovel in remotest Lapland to a
 war hero and, later, a Stakhanovite 
worker in the Soviet Union, is as
 astonishing and rich in adventure as 
Baron Munchhausen’s – or, according
 to her translator, Anselm Hollo, George
 MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman’s. Maid
 Agafiina is a Lapp-Finnish heroine, a 
Jeanne d’Arc who, however, has no 
intentions of ending up on a pyre. More…