Archive for March, 2003

Conserving memory

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

One could almost call Birgitta Boucht’s narrative style Chekhovian, even though the tales she tells in Konservatorns blick (‘The conservator’s gaze’) are not fictitious. The ‘gazes’ in these seemingly peripheral, marginal, trivial stories are all essentially rather similar; perhaps this is one aspect of what Boucht calls ‘the conservator’s gaze’: ‘When culture, society and our hopes for the future begin to crack, we automatically turn to our memories and examine them with a conservator’s gaze: at once tender and severe.’ Memories often contain a great deal which is both trivial and of little importance, yet it is precisely these banalities which can lead us to worlds filled with essential matters. More…

Close encounters

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Stories from Konservatorns blick (‘A conservator’s gaze’, Schildts, 2002). Introduction by Fredrik Hertzberg

Unmarried and randy in a hotel foyer

The hotel foyer in Baghdad was swarming with people as anxious to advertise themselves as westerners at the opening of an art exhibition. I bumped into a man who quickly introduced himself, handed me his card and wondered whether I had an engagement that evening.

‘No,’ I said, truthfully.

‘Then kindly come home with me at nine,’ he said, with a florid gesture in the direction of my breasts.

‘No thank you,’ I answered. ‘I do have an engagement, I’ve just remembered.’ More…

Abrupt bewitchment

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Jouni Inkala (born 1966) published his first collection of poetry in 1992. For some time it seemed that he had already developed his style to the limit, creating an intimate, concentrated tone with a characteristically calm rhythm and a pensive narrative voice. Words and images form a chain, which winds itself round a mystery: something which we can approach and redefine again and again, but which we can never fully apprehend.

In Inkala’s first collection, there are some poems which are so carefully polished, so skilful and considered, that even the dust seems to fall meticulously into place. He has gradually introduced points into his poems at which such control disappears and the writing suddenly ruptures. More…

Could you drop me a line?

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kirjoittamaton (’Unwritten’, WSOY, 2002). Introduction by Jukka Koskelainen

[Chekhov visits a French prostitute]

The room brightly lit like a library that stays open at night.
From the threshold onward, a scent of freshly cut damp grass
and resin. In the curtain swim black goldfish, gasping for air
and the carpet glows, all too red, a red carpet to hell.
The girl sits on the edge of the bed, her face
as expectant as a stuffed nightingale, stares inscrutably
at the guest, until the ice age his presence has brought
begins to melt a little around the edges. Drop by drop,
dripping. He takes his coat off, his shirt
but keeps the pince-nez on his nose. ‘Because without it,
I won’t be able to see you at all.’ The candle
smokes, hisses, even, if you listen to it up close.
On the wall next to the bed the guest’s shadow melts
into the girl’s. Then two horns appear on top of her head
and her shadow bursts into shaky laughter. Then she stops,
takes his mocking fingers into both her hands, kisses them
lightly and says, ‘Let’s do it quickly, and then you’ll just hold me quietly,
so I can tell you about my greatest dream.’
‘What is it,’ he asks, his hair entangled in hers. Now
there’s another scent in the room, the acrid odor of rails
made more intense by a hot summer’s day, and the girl
whispers: “That my two sisters and I could leave here
and go back to Paris. Home to Paris. Oh, Paris!” More…

Family mysteries

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Extracts from Einen keittiö, Eines kök (‘Eine’s kitchen’, Tammi, 2002). Introduction by Satu Koskimies

This sort of detached block of flats is as much of a living organism
as the folk dwelling in it.
For above are the brains and below are the intestines and outlets.

The upper floors were flaunting their kitchen taps, sink-tops,
lion-clawed sofas, mahogany chests and
sapphire-pendant crystal chandeliers, flashing the violet-tones of sea and
rain. More…

In no-woman’s-land

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Ten years ago, when Kaarina Valoaalto moved to the country, to the village of Toivakka in central Finland, I received a note from her:

‘350g of me has just moved, the other 99kg is still in the thick of things. The final truckload – the chickens, the ducks, the goats, the geese, the cat – is leaving tomorrow at six (a.m.) in special boxes carried by volunteers. The current has taken my heart and the rapids my brain….’

Kaarina Valoaalto embodies the myth of the poet’s ‘creative madness’ by writing the way she lives and by living the way she writes. In the fragment ‘Hometalo’ (‘The mouldy house’) from a collection of poems, Räppiä saarnaspöntöstä (‘Rap from the pulpit’, 1997) two sisters, Eine and Tyyne, move into the house of their dreams in the countryside only to be met by a sharp smell: mould. The reality in the heart of the country reveals itself to the newcomers in a tragicomic way. More…