Author: Olli Jalonen

I am me

30 September 2010 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Poikakirja (‘The boy’s own book’, Otava, 2010). Introduction by Mervi Kantokorpi

It’s a small day in spring. Another name for the lark is the skylark. You can only see them sometimes, and even then they’re so high up in the sky that they swoop like fast-moving dots.

The kitchen windowpane is rippling with stripes. The window has a bottom, and at the bottom there is some cotton wool and two opened matchboxes, a blue Sampo and a picture of an army chaplain in his uniform and insignia. As spring has progressed the cotton wool at the bottom has turned into wet blobs and the matches will never light again, as they’ve sucked up the winter frost from the glass.

Most children are made at home but not us, says Eini during walking practice. Outi shoves her, tells her to be quiet and walk in rhythm. I’m behind the table reading the Children’s Encyclopaedia, but I watch them. With every second step, their bottoms swing to the right and then to the left.

Mum comes into th the kitchen and asks what they’re doing; Anna-Liisa responds on the twins’ behalf, says they’re practising walking like in the movies and that’s why they’re wiggling their hips. More…

Works in progress

Issue 3/2008 | Archives online, Essays, On writing and not writing

Writer's block

Olli Jalonen’s latest novel, 14 solmua Greenwichiin (’14 knots to Greenwich’, 2008), was 19 years in the making. He ponders the joys and tribulations of such a slow maturation

When you spend years or decades writing the same book, what is the drive, passion or compulsion that keeps the cogs turning through the quieter months? Or are the months when you don’t write silent at all? Isn’t it the case that the core of a text or a book is born out of a state of peaceful nothingness?

More often than not, the most important ideas, the strongest details and the sturdiest structures of the art of writing come into being somewhere other than at the computer keyboard. One of the greatest benefits and pleasures of a writer’s work is carrying that work around in mind and body. At these times the writing machinery is whirring, quietly, calmly, freely and unpressured. More…

Toward good management practice

Issue 4/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from the collection Värjättyä rakkautta (‘Dyed love’, Otava, 2003). Introduction by Harry Forsblom

Because queries from the field have recently been received concerning the allocation of investment resources in our production facility in a business environment that is undergoing pressures for change, we have in close collaboration with other production organisations, drawn up a booklet on good management practice whose intention is in broad outline and by production sector to delineate in what way the current market situation should be taken into account in the practising of our trade.

The booklet Toward good management practice. Functional spatial planning, utility-oriented measures and allocation of production aims, in keeping with its subtitle, to present, by utility sector, the latest research-based knowledge in the field and thus offer our membership aids to decision-making in designing organisational innovations that demand investment. More…

What if?

30 December 2001 | Articles, Authors

GateA little familyFor an extraordinary period between 1944 and 1956 part of Finland – the Porkkala peninsula, close to Helsinki – was leased to the Soviet Union as a military base. Inspired by the photographs by Jan Kaila, Olli Jalonen explores those silenced and mysterious years, which prompted Finns to ask the question: what if the whole of Finland had succumbed to the same fate?

In the autumn of 1944, the Soviet Union set up an enormous military base close to Helsinki. The Porkkala area, which had been forcibly leased from Finland for 50 years, was returned to the Finns early, in 1956. Completely divorced from its surroundings and strongly armed, the foreign power’s base was like a bear sleeping in Finland’s back yard. It has left in the minds of Finns hidden images of silence, fear and mystery. More…

The dog-man’s daughter

30 December 2001 | Fiction

Extracts from the radio play Porkkalansaari (‘The island of Porkkala’, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, 1993)

The surface of the earth is the first to freeze; then the still waters. The sea freezes at the shore often at the same time, on the same night, as the slow-flowing brooks. I have watched them for many years. When you live in the same place for a long time, you notice this much: that almost everything just repeats and repeats.

It flows into a plastic tube. I suppose water flows inside it. You could drop matchsticks in on the other side of the road and wait on this side for them to swim through the drum. You’d only have to find one; that would be enough to prove it. More…

The guest book

Issue 2/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract rom the novel Kenen kuvasta kerrot (‘Whose picture are you talking about’, Otava, 1996). Introduction by Pia Ingström

Late at night before going to bed An Lee had turned off all the lights, opened the large bedroom window, breathed the cool air. She had done this often. It made it easier to fall asleep. It was enough to look outside for a moment and to breathe in slowly, and at the same time the bedroom air freshened and changed for the night.

Then she had closed and locked the window, drawn the curtains, and switched on the dim wall light. It might be nice to decorate the space between the double windowpanes with wooden animals, she had thought, not for the first time. They had had some at home, her mother had been a collector of such things. Almost all of them pink and lemon yellow, a whole zoo between the windows, only the panther had been pitch-black, and on one of the elephants the pretty grey color had been scratched and splotchy on one side. More…

Becoming father and daughter

Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A father kidnaps his 10-year-old daughter and flees to the western extremity of Europe, to Ireland, to begin a new life under new names. In the following extract, the girl is in a state of shock after witnessing an event organised by a religious sect in which animals are driven over a cliff to their death. The year 2000 approaches, and with it clarification of the relationship between father and daughter. An extract from Olli Jalonen’s novel Isäksi ja tyttäreksi (‘Becoming father and daughter’). Introduction by Erkka Lehtola

He begins leading his daughter back the way they came, along the hillside and the lip of the precipice.

The blare of the Legion’s display carries far, till finally the voices are scrambled in the bluster of the wind. The electricity crackles in the loudspeakers, and the thundersheets rumble out to the audience. ‘Be silent!’ come the roars from the plat­ form: ‘And look at each other! Each is fearfully following his way, each is a venue of good and evil, each is inscribed with God’s name!’ More…

Hotel for the living

Issue 2/1984 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from Hotelli eläville (‘Hotel for the living’, 1983). Introduction by Markku Huotari

Raisa and Pertti are a married couple with three children, Katrieli­na, Aripertti and Artomikko. When she discovers she is to have another, whom she names Katjaraisa, Raisa decides to have an abortion, because another child, even if welcome, would now jeopardise her career – she has been offered a job with an international company at the very top of the advertising world. Raisa is the successful entrepreneur of the novel – on the one hand coldly calculating, without feeling, on the other superficially sentimental, perhaps the most startlingly ironic of the characters in Jalonen’s novel. His image of the brave new woman?

During her lunch hour Raisa took a walk via the laboratory, asked reception for the envelope and thrust it unregarded into her handbag. She was aware of her already knowing, but short of the envelope, there would as yet be no restrictions, nor were there any decisions that would have to be made. She had called Tom Eriksson, discussed yet again the same points and particulars, and ended tracing a finger over the two beautiful pictures on her wall. ‘The loveliest of seas has yet to be sailed’ and ‘I am life! For Life’s sake.’

She thought of Katjaraisa, her features, the palms the breadth of two fingers, just as Katrielina’s had been, and the same button-eyed gazing look as Katrielina. More…