Archive for December, 2005

Scenes from a marriage

Issue 4/2005 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Everything seems fine. A middle-class pastor’s family has found their place in the world. The holy family – husband, wife, and son – have been getting up for years without questioning the new day. But when the son leaves home, the coupIe’s thirty-year marriage soon goes flat like champagne left to stand in a glass overnight.

Pirkko Saisio’s novel Voimattomuus (‘Powerlessness’, WSOY, 2005) is not merely an ordinary family drama or love triangle story. It is an extraordinarily sharp analysis of the people of our time. Saisio (born 1949) is a writer and theatre professional who has no difficulty in building her various sets in such a way that the people she places in them have flesh and blood, and an economical dramaturgy courses through events. More…

Midsummer madness

Issue 4/2005 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Voimattomuus (‘Powerlessness’, WSOY, 2005). Introduction by Maila-Katriina Tuominen

a man
a woman
a boy

Midsummer Eve. A cabin.Outside it’s raining a little, but the blanket of clouds is already breaking up.
It’s bright in the cabin, like daylight. The table is set.
A bunch of wild violets, torn from its means of support, droops in the middle of the table, surrounded by stemmed glasses and paper napkins folded into the shape of swans. The champagne, aquavit and white wine are still chilling.
A man and a woman walk into the cabin wearing bathrobes. She has a terrycloth towel wound around her head like a turban. They’re coming from the sauna. He looks at the table with surprise. The table is set for three.
She notices the man’s gaze and hurries into the bedroom to get dressed.
He takes a beer out of the refrigerator and sits down at the table in his bathrobe.
A long silence. More…

Animal farm

30 December 2005 | Authors, Reviews

Kaarina Valoaalto

Photo: Miriam Ramirez

Kaarina Valoaalto is a writer who obviously adores rolling around in language – in the same way as one of the dogs in her new novel, Nooakan parkki (‘Noahannah’s barque’, Tammi, 2005):

‘Mother dog gets up off her fat tail and trundles over to the slope in the yard for a bit of a roll around. There’s rough gravelly ice on the bumpy road surface. She rapidly wiggles her rotund body from side to side, thrusting her legs against the kerb to generate enough power, and a contented half-purr half-growl issues from her chest, enough to melt the ice in the most irascible mistress’s heart. This is undoubtedly the sort of thing a mother feels about her baby’s first gurglings.’ More…

All aboard

30 December 2005 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Nooakan parkki (‘Noahannah’s barque’, Tammi, 2005)

A Royal Navy Three-funnel Brig

The crew:
Matilda, an overeating cat
Five geese
20 hens
A fat narcoleptic cock
A couple of ducks
A goat
Three dogs
48 bats
Six woodpeckers
104 titmice
There’s a north-westerly blowing.

Djibouti 253

Three feet long from the east and five from the west, plus two hat-heights above the earth’s surface; standing on the sauna bench I scan the horizon for any omens – a raven, a woodpecker or a flock of waxwings. A crow would do. More…

Mortal song

30 December 2005 | Authors, Reviews

Jarkko Laine

Photo: Irmeli Jung

Names or cultural references suffice to convey meaning to the reader: classics, movie stars, brand names, myths and Joe Bloggs coexist in them. In this sense, Jarkko Laine’s poems are ‘cultural’ and testify to a belief in a shared cultural reality and in the existence of a shared civilisation. Furthermore, they assert, in an Eliotian spirit, that the canon of ‘great books’ and great works is still alive. In the manner of a learned humanist, Laine is not afraid to appear pedantic but is willing to emphasise his points with italics or footnotes whenever necessary. More…

Timeless time

30 December 2005 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Jumala saalistaa öisin eli Jobin kirjaan meidän on aina palaaminen. Osittain kursivoituja runoja (‘God hunts at night, or, we shall always return to the Book  of Job. Partly italicised poems’, Otava, 2005)

Greek delights

I eat Giorgios D. Haniotis'
                    small joys
     buried in powdered sugar,
vanilla, rose petal and strawberry,
           as if wooing his three daughters,
reading Angelos Sikelianos' poem
                         'A country wedding':

and it is a beautiful blue day, Sunday,

the strange charm of Greek letters: i kiriaki,
hazelnut kernels dipped in thyme honey,
white herb ashes from the roadside,
a cigarette taste deep as sin,
tobacco smoke the only haze one can stand looking at,
a little quarrelsome noise, bus station flu,
promises made by Turks,
the threadbare pile carpet of the entrance hall as a word of honor, More…