Archive for September, 2003

In the mirror

Issue 3/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Helene (WSOY, 2003). Introduction by Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse

It was raining that day, and I was leafing through art books, as I often do, in the bookshop. Then I happened to pick up a work in which there was a picture; a bowl of apples, one of which was black.

Stories often begin like this, inexplicable as deep waters, secret as an unborn child which moves its mouth in the womb as if it wished to speak. For people do not seek mere understanding… people seek the sulphurous, tumultuous shapes of clouds; people seek bowls of apples of which one is black.

I bought the book and made an enlargement of the still life; on the wall, it was even more remarkable, for its correct position was standing up, tête à tête, looking straight at you, unblinking.
The apples seemed to move, to speak. I began to ponder them more and more. In the end I had to read everything I could lay my hands on about the still life’s painter. I had to visit Hyvinkää, where she lived for a long time, and touch her tree in Tammisaari with my hand. I had to travel as far as Brittany to see the rugged landscape that meant so much to her. More…

The way to anywhere

Issue 3/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Parittelun jälkeinen selkeys (‘Post-coital clarity’, WSOY, 2003). Introduction by Matti Saurama

Enlightenment needs no tools

1.   And I laughed at everything
           and didn’t want to see anything old
there was a fingernail-sized buddha and I walked by it
in the room, trying to find the ceiling,
                           camping out in life, fag in mouth
the soft letters of the clouds, and a blowing skysign
         oh sky
2.    I stand on the street corner
       illuminated like a phone box.
       On the way to anywhere
       and always there already.  More...

Life beyond poetry

Issue 3/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

A young lyricist wearing the mantle of a poet is a familiar sight. There is a need to be different, and a need to be the same. With two volumes of poetry behind him, there is something fundamentally poetly about Joni Pyysalo (born 1974); a poetic and sensitive soul, slightly dandyish, wearing a suit. Any roughness, any pig-headed machismo, any traces of the dry, cheerless face of an intellectual are absent.

In his first collection of poetry, Jätän tämän pimeän kalustamatta (‘I’ll leave this darkness unfurnished’, WSOY 2001) Pyysalo writes that his ‘feet are light’. Levity can be a virtue just as much as profundity. It shines through his work, in the way he asks ‘where have I left my sorrows?’. This young poet does not actively seek out extreme experiences; unlike Finnish training athletes – as it were – he does not ski across swamps in the summer or run through snowdrifts in the winter. More…

Keeping the day job

30 September 2003 | Authors, Interviews

Matti Yrjänä Joensuu

Photo: Irmeli Jung

Finland’s most famous cop, Chief Superintendent Timo Harjunpää, is the fictional creation of another policeman, Matti Yrjänä Joensuu. The long-awaited eleventh novel in the Harjunpää series, Harjunpää ja pahan pappi (‘Harjunpää and the priest of evil’) appeared this autumn after a gap of a decade. Joensuu talks to Jarmo Papinniemi about crime, the creative process and the powers of darkness

Matti Yrjänä Joensuu (born 1948) is one of the best-known Finnish crime writers and is certainly one of the most respected. He writes novels about ordinary policemen and ordinary crimes; bleak tales of murder which do not pander to the reader with complicated plots, non-stop action or glamorous settings. Like the Swedish writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö or Henning Mankell, Joensuu’s narratives focus on social reality and expose the darker sides of society and the day-to-day misery and suffering which gives rise to crime. More…

Notes from underground

30 September 2003 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the crime novel Harjunpää ja pahan pappi (‘Harjunpää and the priest of evil’, Otava, 2003)

Killing a person wasn’t difficult. No more of a problem than killing a pigeon. It only needed a slight push – at the right time, of course, and in the right place. He if anyone had the ability to scent out the time and place, or rather perhaps they were revealed to him in a certain way; and, hey presto, the flesh did come off the bones and the veins burst open on the macadam, and vertebrae and joints rolled about like beans, and the life departed from all that filth that had turned a person into a devil of greed. Of course he knew that. He’d seen it and smelt with his own nostrils the stench of raw human flesh that gave you that sweet shudder. More…

A level gaze

Issue 3/2003 | Archives online, Articles, Non-fiction

The artist Helene Schjerfbeck created her own form of modernism, giving pride of place to emotion, writes Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse. Throughout her solitary life, permanently affiicted by a physical handicap resulting from a childhood accident, Schjerfbeck looked into the mirror for inspiration. In her novel Helene the author Rakel Liehu takes a look at Schjerfbeck’s mirror images and the painter’s long life

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) was passionately interested in human beings and their inner lives – the riddle of the face.

She was one of the few artists of her generation who both created masterpieces in the naturalistic and impressionistic style of her youth and was also able to shift to an entirely modern, expressionist mode. Intensity and control only increased in the avant-garde paintings of her late period. These bear comparison with the work of Picasso, Modigliani and Rouault. More…