Archive for September, 1997

A perfectly ordinary day

Issue 3/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extract from the novel Kello 4.17 (‘The time was 4.17’, WSOY, 1996). When time loses its meaning, real fear strikes like an iron glove. Aho writes about a man who is different but no outcast

I was lost to myself, if it is possible to be lost if you haven’t gone anywhere. Black birds curved through my mind and it felt as if no one needed me, no one or nothing: my mother bought clothes and make-up and did not seem to care; Uncle Lasse looked after the family business, steam coming out of his head, and kept shopkeepers and shopaholic customers happy; smiling bank managers slapped shy loan applicants encouragingly on the back, the gross national product grew without me having anything to do with it, or because I didn’t; and politics plodded onward as the mud squelched comfortingly. The machine of society hummed and ticked and Finland was as round and fat as a bomb. I looked at it and nothing changed, and on Sundays it was so quiet that you could look out of the window and see the Sahara.


Sick with emptiness

Issue 3/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

The poetry of Juhani Ahvenjärvi is a poetry of disorientation. Reducing its imagery to a bare minimum, it develops a luminously metaphorical quality through the act of reading.

I do not know Juhani Ahvenjärvi (born 1965), although I have drunk beer with him on the Boulevard Saint-Michel. I do not know what goes on inside his head and why he writes so strangely. In Helsinki and Tampere, audiences burst out laughing in the middle of his poems, but grow serious or confused toward the end. In Paris, the audience listened to Ahvenjärvi’s poems fervently, and it would not have occurred to them to laugh.

At funerals, too, laughter is, aftertears, the most common reaction. More…

Oedipus Cleverclogs

Issue 3/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

 A short story from Ammattimies (‘The professional’, Tammi, 1997)

I had just pounded the life out of a couple of Germans when mother appeared at the door of my room, her blonde hair in a bun, in her white nightdress, through which I could clearly see the outline of her figure. She looked at me a little pityingly and suggested that we should go out for a meal at the weekend, just the two of us. I nodded and went back to concentrating on my acts of heroism.

And mother did not break her promise. Although she did not earn much as the junior cook at the children’s home, that did not stop us eating out. She took me to a good restaurant that was right on the harbour, in the shadow of the old steamships. The night before, she had ironed my only white shirt and hung it on a hanger with my terylene trousers. My mother had dressed me in the same outfit on my first day at school. I was decidedly over-dressed that day, but I put a good face on it. Mother’s men must always look their best. More…

In the sand-pit

Issue 3/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Viivoitettu uni (‘A ruled dream’, Tammi, 1996). Introduction by Riina Katajavuori

Driving in the countryside awakens painful memories.
An apple fell into the back seat of our cabriolet
and was eaten. The core was not laid to rest.
It rotted, it vapourised, it disappeared before our very eyes
as we stared at it …. How can driving in the countryside
bring such agony?
How are trees, how are clouds,
how are ladders not
as they are? More…

The unicorn

Issue 3/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Koira nimeltä Onni ja muita onnettomuuksia (’A dog called Lucky and other misfortunes’, Tammi, 1997)

Hilma was rattling her bars when Pirjo stepped into the ward. Once again, she was the only one awake. The three other old people were asleep, wheezing heavily through their toothless mouths, making the air thick with their breathing. Clutching the bars of her bed, Hilma clambered up to a sitting position and leaned her sparse hair against the side.

‘How are you doing with the medicine?’ Pirjo asked.

‘A mouse took it,’ Hilma said, fixing her with her eyes.

‘And you’re not at all sleepy,’ Pirjo sighed. More…