Archive for December, 2002

Woman and myth

Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Anu Kaipainen (1933-200) was a prolific writers; she published more than twenty novels, numerous stage, television and radio plays.

Kaipainen’s work has not been translated very widely. ‘The language of my books has often proved too difficult,’ the writer herself has said. Kaipainen’s language rings with the rhythms of the Karelian dialect, even the songs of the Kalevala, although in earlier novels it is linked with social reportage.

Typical of the writer’s work is diversity of material and style. Before post-modernism, this was called a collage technique. In her novels, Kaipainen has interleaved myths, folk stories and contemporary themes, as she also does in  Granaattiomena (‘Pomegranate’, WSOY) which is entwined around the Oedipus story from the point of view of Oedipus’s mother. More…


Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Granaattiomena (‘Pomegranate’, WSOY, 2002). Introduction by Kristina Carlson

The journey

Mother had sent her son to the island of Rome.

She’d sent him for pleasure and recreation, and also to have a little time by herself. Even though their life together was on an even keel, it was sensible to have some time away from each other. She herself was sixty-eight, and her son an unmarried hermit in his thirties, on sickness allowance for the last couple of years. He was afflicted with chronic depression. The doctors had been unable to identify the cause. The origin of a disorder of that sort was often looked for in some infant trauma; but the boy’s childhood, from all appearances, had been harmonious. One doctor suspected the time of his father’s terminal illness, when the boy had had to nurse his father for a long while. More…

Practically public

Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Koko tarina (‘The whole story’, Tammi, 2002). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

Pan shot

A whitewashed wall, small windows

advent calendar peepholes at the end of darkness,
                               lit-up squares

One two three kitchens awake at 7
each tenant bends over a kettle of porridge
in the gurgling coffeemaker’s soundscape,
opens the refrigerator
see the hunter in action: let’s spear this yoghurt

and the building across the way testifies to all of this
practically public activity
the evening’s closure of curtains, turnings-off of the light,
nocturnal breastfeedings. Talking windows. A light comes on at: 2:54 AM
– what’s up now?
Is someone thinking about a bird she encountered at the cemetery? More…

Creatures in the family

Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Riina Katajavuori (born 1965) writes a poetry of quick shifts, cinematic cut, changes in point of view: in a translator’s note for Five from Finland (Reality Street Editions, London 2001), I said that they ‘incorporate voices, observations and acts of speech from the street, television, radio, lectures and books. These hums and buzzes are then distanced by being framed as laconic and ironic propositions.’

That observation still holds true for her new book. Koko tarina (‘The whole story’, Tammi, 2001). Ironic titles seem to be in vogue in contemporary Finnish poetry (e.g. Kai Nieminen’s Lopullinen totuus. Kaikesta, ‘The ultimate truth. About everything’, Tammi, 2002): while these eighty-some pages of poetry cannot literally tell any ‘whole story’, they show that Katajavuori’s work has become more expansive. It delineates a contemporary sphere of urban life in a more richly detailed way, employing an overall syntax that seems less discontinuous than before. More…

Season’s greetings

Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Kolmastoista tuoli (‘The thirteenth chair’, Atena, 2002)

The start of the Christmas season was difficult for everybody, but it was one big upset for Ron and Dan, the twins. At Christmas, apparently, their whole world, all their schoolmates and backyard-mates, the whole gang of them, were avoiding the twins. No one seemed to be even talking to the twins, who said everyone was just concentrating on ‘being nice’.


The pain on the boys’ faces looked the real thing. They were without chums, and the reason was even more annoying.

‘They have to be nice, for they’re expecting presents from Father Christmas.’

Christmas was coming and was having a weird effect on the youngest. For the twins, effort and a reward for a good try were completely foreign concepts. At this point, their lives were sheer adventure. They were lavished with overflowing care and love – and not one Christmas present. More…

How to peel an orange

30 December 2002 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Auringon asema (‘The position of the sun’, Otava, 2002)

There are times when God rules. Then logic is burned on bonfires and left to rot in damp prisons with rats. There are times when logic rules. Then God is burned in the squares and his houses are made into schools. There are times when attempts are made to demonstrate that God and logic can live in the same place and that they are, in fact, the same thing, but those times are truly strange times. And there are times when God and logic live side by side but in different places, like adult siblings who cannot live in the same place but nevertheless get on well together. When my father and my mother loved each other, they were ruled by God, and there was no logic in it, none at all. More…