Thursday, April 14, 2005

Backlash

A new entry in our on-going series "Confessions of a Non-Fiction Writer": another publisher just announced they are not interested in the book Elina and I proposed for them, about the Finnish pasta culture (actually "macaroni", but I don't actually know what precise meaning that word has in English). I tried not to smash the windows for couple of seconds, then I sent the memo we made to another publisher.

The Finnish pasta culture is very much its own and has nothing to do with the original Italian pasta (or Chinese noodles). The Finnish macaroni is short and doesn't always contain durum wheat at all and there are recipes that go like this:

Cook macaronis for half an hour. Cool them and leave them be. Cut them in thick slices and dip them in eggs and roll them over in wheat flour. Fry them on a pan.

It's called "macaroni steaks" and is to be eaten with meat. I don't know if anyone really does this anymore, since we've been taught to eat "real" Italian pasta with tomato sauce and garlic and herbs and stuff like that (and I do think that it tastes better), but this is cultural history that should be preserved.

We've heard some new recipes, though, that have nothing do with "pasta". One guy was reported eating his macaronis with liver pate: he just minced the liver pate in with the cooked macaroni.

***

I gave my usual Wednesday lecture on cinema history yesterday at the Tampere university. Elina and Kauto met me afterwards at the railway station and we went to see a new-born son of my old friend Arttu. It was so small and fragile! It's difficult to think that Kauto was once so small, as he walks (well, almost) and talks (well, almost).

We walked over the beautiful Pyynikinharju in the way to town and dropped by some second hand stores and flea markets. Nothing spectacular, but it's always entertaining to go through some musty old piles.

As for my lecture: I talked about the animated movies. I mentioned that I just might deliver a whole series of lectures about animations and one guy came up and said that he would be interested. Now, just go to work! I've been playing with the idea of doing a short book on the subject, since the last history of animated movies in Finnish is, what, almost thirty years old.

***

I went through today the rest of my first novel (well, that's what I like to think). It's called "The Blood Orgy of the Void God" and it's a genre hybrid of hardboiled police procedural, splatter horror and religious fantasy and satire. I don't know if it works. Some small publishers have been mildly interested in it (the other one went down, though), but I have a vague feeling that time has passed this kind of work. (I'd be almost willing to give it away free, but don't tell this to the publishers... I've been writing this for ages, starting actually from 1988, when my first (and for years, only) short story was published in Tähtivaeltaja. There are even some same characters.)

I also started going through a private eye novel about Joe Novak, who's been in one short story in Isku (and in another one in a forth-coming issue). The novel is called "The Dostoyevsky Reel" and is about the last days of Hollywood's B-film system and the drive-in movies and stuff like that. It's very short, only about 35 000 words, and should make a good Ace Double. Who would write the other half?

I wrote "The Dostoyevsky Reel" in 1999, when my daughter Ottilia was born. I read it last Christmas and thought it worked quite well, but I don't know if the Finnish publishers would be interested in it, since it's situated in the US in the late fifties. There are of course the vanity presses, but I've come to a conclusion that I could even make some money out of it, if I made some 100-150 copies with my own money and sell them under the counter, since I don't think the Finnish vanity presses would be able to sell more copies. And I would certainly know what the book should look like!

There's just that the English title is much more better than the translated one. ("Kela Dostojevskia"? "Dostojevski-rulla"? "Raina ja rangaistus"? Any suggestions for the Finnish title? Anyone?)

4 comments:

Bill said...

I've always wished I could have written half of one of those old Ace Doubles. I've enjoyed the discussion of them on fictionmags.

Juri said...

Me, too. Maybe I'll do another short mystery novel and self-publish the books as a Double.

Duane said...

Some of the Ace Doubles had two novels by a single author. I think A. Bertram Chandler is an example from the SF doubles. (I can't recall any from the mystery or western doubles, but someone like Bill Crider probably could reel off a list in his sleep.) So offering a double does of Juri-fiction certainly doesn't break with tradition!

Duane said...

Some of the Ace Doubles had two novels by a single author. I think A. Bertram Chandler is an example from the SF doubles. (I can't recall any from the mystery or western doubles, but someone like Bill Crider probably could reel off a list in his sleep.) So offering a double does of Juri-fiction certainly doesn't break with tradition!