Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Star Wars, No. 6

That's how I count the films. It's not the episode III, it's the goddam sixth Star Wars movie.

I saw "Revenge of the Sith" (I just wonder how stupid George Lucas can really be to have named his movie that, or "tath") on Monday night. I was of course disappointed, but at the same time I wasn't, because the fourth and fifth films were so bad. Let me rephrase this: I was entertained, but bored at the same time.

You know, the acting and writing are appallingly bad. If it hadn't been George Lucas, no one would have given the writer any money to make his script into a movie. I just can't believe how naïve Lucas can be in his depiction of love. The romantic scenes are like from a 12-year old's diary (and they are probably better written at that!). The stupidest stuff in the Star Wars films has certainly come out of Lucas's pen, not any other writer's (ewoks, Jar Jar Binks etc.).

At the same time, there is still the same magic that draws me to the original film and "Empire Strikes Back" (and if I could watch it without the ewoks, "Return of the Jedi"). I can't point out exactly what it is. Maybe it's just the little kid in me who first got to know the story through the graphic novel version (can I call it a graphic novel?). I saw "Empire Strikes Back" first and only then I saw the original film. (I've seen it six or seven times since. I don't count myself a fan in the real sense of the word.)

But I don't like to think that there's this nostalgic kid in me who just wants to get out and like all the bad films. Maybe there really is some force in Lucas's universe and the stuff he's created that attracts me. At the same time, I'm the first to announce, for example, that the Jedi religion is dangerous in its naïve beliefs in the ultimate power of the individual, even though it presents itself like some Eastern religion.

What the heck? Why can't I just admit that I liked the action and special effects? There are just so many incredibly bad elements in the film I want to shout at Lucas: Get off behind the camera! Get someone else to direct! (There would've been lots of better directors to do this. Just think of what Irvin Kershner did with "Empire Strikes Back". And Lawrence Kasdan. Why didn't Lucas hire him to do at least a draft for a screenplay? You damn cheapskate!)

I mean, how can someone make actors like Ewan McGregor and Samuel Jackson to act so badly?! McGregor also looks like some Finnish wino in his stupid beard (and totally unlike Obi-wan Kenobi!). How can someone with that story fail to deliver a film that doesn't resemble Shakespeare in the least?

The biggest problem was that you knew all the time what was going to happen. You knew that Obi-wan won't die, you knew that Luke and Leia will be taken to foster homes, etc. And you knew that Anakin will be Darth Vader. There's never real suspense in any of the events. The ending with all the storylines taken together is no real cinema, it's just someone pointing out what happened next.

What bugs me is that Lucas hasn't realized that if the events in the three latest films really take place, everyone would still be talking about Palpatine or the chancellor, not just the Emperor. Just think if Hitler had changed his name to Kaiser I, don't you think they would still be talking about Hitler?

And what happens to the technology and architecture? The first three films look rather grim and gritty compared to the art deco fantasies of the new film, and the technology seems to have dragged backwards. Yet you should think that they still exist and that the technology would've advanced during the peace. Well, maybe that's what Lucas is trying to tell us: don't trust war mongers. (Which is a good political message, I admit.)

Yet with all this under me (and probably many more complaints) I kind of liked the film. I would've continued watching other Star Wars films if they had started showing one right after I went to pee and came back. Maybe I'll have to read some of those spin-off books and play the videogame and read the comics version once again. Hey, I realize now that they published all of the Al Williamson scripted comics in Finnish a year ago and I haven't read them!


Wow! That was quite a complaint. I hope it's not too confusing.

I'll be away for three days. We are off at Vammala's old book days with my father selling books. It's my dad's business that he has taken up full time now that he's retired. Wish us luck and many happy buyers!

The mystery item I was talking about will be revealed next Sunday when I get back and start blogging again.

This is not from Berlin. It's Kauto sitting in his wagon (what's the actual word?) and waving his favourite plastic hammer. He looks a bit like Elina in this. (That's Elina, by the way, on the right.)

Still a few pictures from Berlin. Some narcissistic pictures of ourselves... here's an architectural photo: the parking house in the middle of Berlin's largest shopping centers (forgot the name of the street). They know how to do this kind of houses even in Berlin.

Elina at another cafe and a typical Berlin phone booth. Nice color.

Me at the same cafe (I'm having green tea). I look like a movie star in that!

Elina having a morning cup of coffee at Knesebeckstrasse.

Kauto and I at the flea market near the Zoo.

Couple more geeks from our collection of goofy plush toys. The left one is Velvet Zebra (actually it looks more like a deer) from the sixties and the right one is Vekku, the ultimate plush dog. From the seventies, I presume.

The plush rhino we bought from Germany. It's from the fifties and I suppose it presents the one-horn rhinos that the Berlin Zoo has. Cute, huh?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I promised this earlier: "The Loving Daugher of the South" by Alex d'Ornot (= Kaarlo Nuorvala), from West-kirjat in 1966 (a reprint from the 1940s). There's a signature showing - it's something like S. Kaukonen. Never heard.

British crime paperback from 1953 (Pete Garroway (= John Usher Gray): High Stepping Jezebel) in a Finnish translation. Not bad P.I. pastiche, a bit like Richard S. Prather's Shell Scotts, but nowhere as funny.

Thrilling Porn Tales of Lust

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Bad copy editing

Bill Crider posted two excerpts of a new Western novel by Robert B. Parker in his blog:

From Appaloosa, p. 266: "The room was quiet and noisy."

p. 238: "Bragg took a tan leather case out of his inside coat pocket. He offered a cigar to Bragg and me."

Quite nice! (I'm no big fan of Parker and this is pretty satisfying to me!)

Bad films

Ed Gorman wrote in his blog:

The local community college here runs movies every night on the tube. They concentrate on action flicks--westerns, Flash Gordon type sci-fi, jungle pictures--with the rare exception of a B melodrama or noir.
When they first began telecasting, I thought this would be a lot of fun. All those crummy movies from my earliest days in the second run theaters of that era during and after the war.
I lasted a week. I think maybe it was the Mexican horror movie that did me in. The only film I've ever seen that made The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant look like serious art.

I know what he feels like. Now, I'm a basically a friend of good films, even though I've been known to dig into some really bad stuff. I like sleaze, but I like it well-handled, not just some sloppy splattering. I don't like gratuitous violence, even though it's only the mondo documentaries that make me sick (such as Faces of Death). My three all-time favourite movies are (have been for a while if anybody asks) Orson Welles's Touch of Evil, Andrey Tarkovsky's The Mirror and Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai. Not very trashy, huh? (Even though there are certain elements of trash and camp in Welles's pre-postmodern masterpiece.)

But while I know what Ed's feeling, I am fascinated by films as bad as the Mexican horror flick he mentions having seen. But I like more to read about Z grade films rather than see them. They bore me out, but reading about them is a great joy. Take for instance Devil Monster (I have the ugly Finnish poster, can't scan it, but if we get to buy the digital camera we've been talking about for a year, I'll put it here). It must be one hell of a bore, but reading that it's almost 50% of archive footage and that the final battle with the manta ray is filmed through the glass of the sea aquarium makes me chuckle. And what entertains me even more is that this is the only film its director-producer-writer ever made - with the exception of the earlier version of the same story! (Made cheaply in Mexico some ten years earlier... How pathetic can you go?)

The same applies to the classics like Plan 9 from Outer Space. I had read about its sloppiness through the years so much that I couldn't get anything out of it when I finally saw the film. Same happened with The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, which we looked through with fast forward.

The funniest description of a bad movie, though, must be about Grizzly. An Imdb user writes:

The forest ranger tracks down Yogi to an open field and is going to have a man to bear fight to settle it all. Bear charges the ranger and what does the ranger have up his sleeve? A rocket launcher! He fires it at the bear and this bear must have been drinking gasoline for breakfast because it is the biggest explosion you have ever seen. You can even see pieces of wood fly out during the explosion. This bear was full of all kinds of foreign objects. I'm amazed the explosion didn't level the ranger and a two mile radius around Yogi and his diesel engine stomach. I rewound this scene about five times cheering all the way.

I get a kick out of this everytime I even think about it.

Now, I saw "Revenge of the Shit.. sorry, Sith" yesterday, but more about it later.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The American cover of Gatti's Saranga. If I ever find a Finnish copy (cheap), I'll put it here.

An Italian Tarzan

From the Moomins' book shelves I also found out that there was an Italian copy of Tarzan. Moomintroll had a book called Saranga, viidakon poika/Saranga, Son of the Jungle, by one Attilio Gatti, who was an Italian author. It's been translated into English as Saranga, the Pygmy which is actual translation of the original title (Saranga, il pigmeo). From Gatti there are also other books translated, such as Kamanda: An African Boy. A quick search reveals that Gatti was an expeditioner and traveller. He made also a film called Siliva the Zulu, of which the website says this:

“In the annals of African cinema, SILIVA THE ZULU is a landmark. In 1927, Italian director and explorer Attilio Gatti traveled to Zululand, where he devised a script filled with ‘love, hate, intrigue and adventure.’ Gatti took the standard Western romantic theme of ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl,’ etc. and stirred it together with ideas of ‘the tribal.’ He added a generous dose of witchcraft, and the result is a heady melodramatic stew. But he chose to shoot in a rural community, and, as a result, SILIVA stands virtually alone as an authentic record of Zulu life and culture at that time. Melodramatic as the film is — and melodrama was, after all, the soul of silent cinema — Gatti is never condescending or demeaning towards his actors. They are fully the equals of their counterparts in white cinema.” (Peter Davis)

I found only cover of Saranga and it's not very good. Try to bear with it. (Bare with it? How does one say?)

Moominpappa's favourite pastime.

After the holiday

Started work today. Wrote a page of the short story for Tapani's anthology, translated three pages of Starr's "Nothing Personal" and then dabbled with the YA novel. Same old same old. I also wrote some descriptions for "Pulpografia Britannica". Sent the surprise item I mentioned to the printers.

Ottilia is here, so can't really concentrate on stuff. She's here for an extra day, since her mother is away on a trip. I actually miss her already - will be taking her home tonight. They have so much to do with Kauto and they are already quarreling about each others' things.

We went to Moominworld yesterday. Same old same old there, too. There were some books on the shelves in Moomins' house and I of course checked them out. I was pretty exhilarated to find out that Moomintroll's dad (is it Moominpappa in English?) was reading William Garner's "Overkill" (1966) that has been translated as "Mass Destruction". Slight contrasting note in the midst of the peace of Moominvalley, eh?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Jim Barker's blog

Hilarious covers, pulp, comic and paperbacks. Love especially the Mexican (?) Yorga cover.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Here's a picture of me in 1973 or 1974. I'm on the stairs somewhere, that's my mother standing behind me. The photo is presumably taken by my father. I can't as yet reveal what this photo is for (actually it couldnt' get in), since it's a surprise.

Crime story/blog contest

There was a nice contest in the American crime writers' blogs some time ago. All the stories were supposed to happen from the same premises and all had to be short. You can check them through Bill Crider's blog:

After Bill's own story, click for the other stories. There are some future promises there, such as Ray Banks, Dave Zeltserman, Duane Swierczynski (did I get this right?), and so on. (Why aren't any of them available in Finnish?)

Sorry for getting to this so late.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Evanovich on a bitch mood

I thought that Janet Evanovich would be a nice person (I don't know why; I haven't read any of her books). Crazy writers! (And their crazy lawyers!) Read the whole story.

Dada spam

I don't get anymore of that Dada spam that flooded the inboxes last Summer. I even made two books from Dada spam. The first one was called "Corporation Near Class" and it even has an ISBN code! The second one, "All Data Will Be Destroyed!", was size A6 and printed in the run of 11, IIRC. The first one has been on sale at the Sammakko bookstore here in Turku for two euros. I don't know if they have been sold out already. Cool titles, if you ask me...

Now, thanks to John Boston over at Fictionmags group, I have these delightful items. The last one seems to be a joke of some kind. "Some kind" is a slight underestimation.

In pain?

We have pain relievers that will help significantly.A blonde confiscable was driving along the balkan when a brokepolice aristocrat pulled her stardom for coquette.prose: May i see your vitriol?codeposit: what does it look hart?sojourn: its a chauffeur thing with a seminarian of you on it.The rejecter looks retardation her ignorant and peculate out hercornish sled and hands it to the officer.The slacken opens it up and says if you had stratford me you were asusanne stove I wouldn't have episcopalian you over.

Bone and Joint pain is difficult. Let us help you cope

Two ballast walk into a euphorbia where one of them picks up aabstain. They taker greenwich to ta local rumple; the first discussgoes into the advert coarse while the other waits holbrook. Once thecustomary closes, the vorticity on the outside hears meritoriouscandelabra through the laurent, "I can't do it, I can't do it, ICAN'T DO IT!"In the morning, the second hobbit askes the first, "How did it go?"The first one answers. "It was embarrassing. I simply couldn't do it." The second limitate shook his denial. "Hydroxylate problems,eh?" "No. I couldnt get on the nuptial!"

(The punchline is a genuine classic.)

Flea market trip - again!

We went today for - surprise, surprise! - a flea market trip. We went to Salo that's about half an hour away from Turku by train. There are two flea markets in Salo and they are not especially good, but we knew that on Thursdays the town marketplace would be full of flea market sellers. They were in abundance, but we didn't find much. I bought some silly old children's books - I'll have to write about my fascination towards these later on (and scan some tasty examples) - and a compilation of The Sonics, my favourite band from 1987 or so.

The "official" flea markets were not much, but of course we found something. Elina bought some old baby clothes, some to sell on, from a charity store and I got Kauto some old toy cars, including one Matchbox from early eighties. I was interested in a pair of groovy seventies shoes, but when we left the shop, I forgot them. I also picked up an early nineties edition of "Blind Man with a Pistol" by Chester Himes - it hasn't been translated (if I remember correctly). On the other flea market I found a Lewis Patten paperback that I think I don't already have.

What bugged me was the shirt that the charity store's clerk was wearing said: "America, don't worry, Israel is behind you!" I almost walked out when I saw it. I knew that the charity store is run by a religious association, but this was almost too much. The shirt also had a picture of a fighter plane and the flags of the countries mentioned. If you really want to show you love war and fighting, then pick up a gun and go to Middle East! I was quite pissed off after this - especially when the clerk didn't want to bargain the prices with me (she ended up not selling some cartoons on VHS, because she wouldn't give up for 50 cents). I don't know what's with some of the so called true Christians - they support war, they are largely unfriendly and don't really want to listen to conflicting views, let alone accept them.

I also met a reader of Isku and Pulp with whom I'd had correspondence for quite a while. We'd never met (he recognized me from a photo in Ruudinsavu and came to shake hands) and it was nice to meet someone so enthusiastic about my efforts. It turned out, though, that he hadn't liked Isku's latest issue, because it had contained so much cursing and foul language. I didn't even notice anything when I read the stories. The guy admitted that of course it's a matter of personal opinion, but I know it's a big issue to some people.

I wonder why. Foul language never hurt anybody. It's weird you can kill tons of people in a story, but if there's one "shit" or "fuck", they shout "it's not right!" Same goes for sex. People have sex, goddamit! This was a big issue in an e-mail group I'm in when there was a discussion about Deadwood, the new HBO Western show that's targeted mainly for the urban audience of my age. No wonder there's cursing in it - they are used to it. The people on the list were pissed off - to put it mildly. I haven't yet seen an episode of Deadwood (it's been bought to be shown here, but I don't know when it will air), but I know one thing: I won't be pissed. Chances are I won't even notice anything.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

To continue the boots from the pages of S&M.. sorry, M&M. The ad for the Finnish Monofinn boots.

These boots are made for walking! Mmm... scrumptious! Without the hat that's quite cool outfit. And if you come to think of it, even the hat is very very cool.

More Soviet fashion. Those could be a knock-out today!

Soviet fashion from the pages of M&M. The article explains the cycle of fashion by Marxist dialectics: first the thesis, then the antithesis, finally the synthesis! (Marx is not mentioned, though.)

The president of Finland, Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, in the cover of a Soviet version of Readers' Digest (The World and Us) that was published also in Finnish (and maybe other languages of the Eastern bloc). Great looking guy, eh?

Finnish pulp at its most melodramatic: Jussi Kukkonen's Korven kuningatar/The Empress of the Backwoods. It's a historical novel published in 1945 by Marjamaa, who later evolved into Kolmiokirja/Triangle Books that still publishes a great deal of women's romances.

Old and ugly Finnish crime paperback

Here's a rather inept cover of a Finnish paperback, a very obscure Pankkiryosto Harmassa/Bank Robbery in Harma (an area in the Western coast of Finland), perhaps written by one Aarre Gronlund, who published men's and true crime magazines from the late fifties on. This one is from 1973. (Sorry, the scandic letters don't show when I use this Picasa program.)

Dana Chambers

Bill Crider writes in his blog about Dana Chambers, to whom I haven't paid much attention even though he (she? Bill C. avoids using the words "he" and "she" in his post) has two titles translated (see below). Chambers was one of those medium-boiled writers of the fourties who had a hint of screwball comedy in their works. Maybe I should pick these up - they go easily under five euros. Or even less, if the seller is nice. (Or free, if the seller is my father.)

Dana Chambers in Finnish:

Hiipivä pelko: rakkaus- ja salapoliisiromaani. Transl. Olavi Linnus. Mantere: Helsinki 1948.
Originally Death Against Venus. Dial 1946.

Kumpi kuoli ensin? Transl. Toini Kaukonen. Suomen kirja: Helsinki 1944. Originally The Blonde Died First. Dial 1941.

Checking the original dates and publishers in Hubin I notice that our Dana was a man - his real name was Albert Leffingwell. He also wrote two novels as Giles Jackson. He died as early as 1946, so his career was cut off short.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I'm pretty drunk as I write this. We went over to an Indian restaurant and ate well (even though the waiters were as bas as always in Finland; this is something I already miss from German: happy, friendly, service-ready waiters) and then went to a bar nearby to have one cider. Now, I've decided that I won't drink anymore of that bulk cider that is most often available in Finland, those goddam Upciders and Golden Caps. I've even grown tired of Golden Cap Classic, which has been to me the best of the Finnish ciders (with the possible exception of Dark Cider that is made no more, unfortunately: it had a good, almost mystery taste of cola in it). I've grown tired of such phrases as "Apple or pear?" or "we have Upcider in the tap". Stuff it up your arse, I tell you! Have something good for a change!

Now, the best cider I've ever tasted was from South Africa. It was called Savuti and they no longer import it. Screw you! But I'll manage as long as there's some French cider available. If not that, I'll settle with the British and Irish. Today after we'd had our dinner we went to Mallaskukko, a bar nearby, that I knew had a good stock of ciders. It had diminished to my chagrin (you bastards!), but they still stocked Henry Weston's cider that is 6,5%. We had one pint both and came to be very very drunk. Elina had even drunk a bottle of Indian beer with her food; I had declined the offer to drink Finnish cider ("Apple or pear?") with my delicious meal.

Earlier today I read a good description of a Canadian cider. Me want! Ugh!


Enough of this crazy alcohol talk. The best part today (apart from the headache pill incident Elina knows) was that I heard that "White Heat" is going to the printers. Yippee! It will appear in August. Of course it comes out sooner, but no one pays any attention to books published in mid-Summer. I asked the publisher if there's gonna be booze and gals, but I hear no.

I've been having the luxury of spending the holiday this week. I've done nothing. Well, except blogging and writing a travel journal of our flea market trip I mentioned earlier. That's not much. I was going to go to a park to read, but the weather wasn't nice enough. Instead I ended up buying clothes at Uff and books at the flea market. I'm so predictable. I started reading "Cinderella Spy" by Philip Daniels, but can't still say much about it. I got to the end of one Hank Jason, but the less I say about it, the better. I am still in the middle of Pete Garroway's "High Stepping Jezebel" (1953).

Why am I reading these obscure works? Because I'm doing a new book! On British paperback crime fiction! It will be called "Pulpografia Britannica". It doesn't have a publisher yet, but there will be.

Berlin, by the way: I still have pictures to come. And stuff to write. I knew I had forgotten something.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


My friend pHinn (check also this) has just released his first record! Hurrah for Kompleksi! It's a 7" vinyl, with "(I Ain't No) Love Child" on the A-side and "Moscow 1980" on the B-side. They are brooding, but energetic garage electro with just a hint of the rougher eighties sound, yet safely on the 2000's side (no nostalgia here). "Love Child" also reminds me of bit Iggy and the Stooges and other Detroit bands of the late sixties. Maybe also early Suicide comes to mind.

Both songs are great and should deserve radio play. I also hope they are picked up by some bigger company. More power to Kompleksi!

The 7" was released by Lal Lal Lal who also published The Demars' "Veriläiskiä". (You can check The Demars also here. It's in Finnish. Their summer hit "Pallomainen vittu" was in the web, but I can't find at the moment.)

You can hear Kompleksi and pHinn's other music projects here. Check it out.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ottilia, me and Kauto at the sofa at home. Kauto is eating the remote control. In this picture he looks like Elina's father - or actually her grandfather Niilo or so they tell me. (For the fashion polices out there: I'm not wearing white sports socks, they are white suit socks by Falke to be worn with white shoes. The shirt is vintage, I think Swedish from the early seventies.) Those scrappy flowers are ours, I'm sorry to say.

A typical DDR block house. It may be torn down already as I write this. This was right at Alexanderplatz.

The history of Germany: the cathedral that was bombed during the WWII, but somehow survived, and the new cathedral beside it. This is quite striking architectural combination of new and old.

Kauto and I again, in a clearer picture. It was hard to get Kauto waving at Elina taking the picture. Notice the pair of new jeans.

Kauto and I at the Alexanderplatz, the way it's left from the leftists of DDR. Notice the mural at the back. It has something to do with the solidarity of the peoples.

Elina and Kauto (looking straight at camera, although you don't notice it from the picture) at the holocaust memorial.

Berlin, final note (I hope)

I promised to say something about the sightseeing in Berlin. Now we have photos - I'll scan them in a minute.

We saw some pretty ordinary views, Brandenburg etc. etc. I even forget the names of the places. I'm not much of a sightseeing man and could be more interested in the forgotten buildings in side streets. But hey, once you go to Berlin, you can't skip the essentials. (But hell, we didn't even see the Reichstag - from a S-Bahn window, yes, but not from the inside.)

The new holocaust memorial by Daniel Libeskind was quite impressive, even though contradictory. Due to bad weather, though, we didn't spend much time between the concrete blocks. The thing raised more questions than it was capable of answering. I've read that the thing has been accused of making Jews nameless victims, instead or real persons in real history - and I think that's a right thing to say. But the memorial is good to produce a sense of claustrophobia and angst. I can imagine that if you spend some two hours between the blocks, you just want to get out. The memorial shows that the German government really cares about the issue: the thing is in the middle of the city and takes a huge place of surely a very expensive lot. It's no light feat to have the history of Germany.

We dropped by the former East Berlin side and visited a large shopping mall (the name of which I already forgot). The city also seems to forget its history very easily and very quickly: only 15 years back this was a communist country and hostile to capitalist ideology of shopping. Now there was a huge temple dedicated to spending money (or "usura", as Ezra Pound used to say). I don't personally mind and I actually liked shopping in there. (I would've liked to shop at the expensive boutiques at Ku'damm, Louis Vuitton and the others, but maybe I should have more money... Maybe there are some bestsellers waiting for me to write them...)

Architecturally the mall was very interesting and very bold - something you'd never see in Finland. In Berlin it seemed quite ordinary. I also visited the film museum that was located near the mall. It was quite nice, good balance between the experience-oriented and the fact-oriented museum. I was only wondering why the German post-war film got so little attention, with Fassbinders and all. They also had a smaller room for the stop motion technique of Ray Harryhausen. I haven't seen many of his films, such as Jason and the Argonauts, but now I'd really like to take a look. The museum had a small theater that showed classics, foreign films and new marginal movies, but the films showing at the time didn't seem very interesting. A week earlier they had been showing Erle Kenton's Island of Lost Souls! If only I'd been there...

As for the former East Berlin, there were many bits of it still showing - for example, the clock of the world or Weltzeituhr that is the monument to the solidarity between the peoples of the world and the peace etc. etc. Yeah, right. Some of the DDR buildings were collapsing and were only waiting for the machines to tear them down. But it does make the city more interesting: it has two histories and they can never be totally united.

My overall impression of Berlin was that it was too large. I'm accustomed to smaller circles. But now Turku seems too small.. it was a bit depressing to get back home and see the same old places that you've seen so many times. Maybe this is what happens every time when you travel - keep in mind that this was my first true trip abroad. Now I really see why there's no real café culture in Turku. And now I see the limits of the Finnish yoghurt production: where's the fig yoghurt or the marzipan yoghurt? Only the same old vanilla and strawberry...

I have a feeling I'm forgetting something. There was lots of stuff to see, as in other major cities in the world, and I want to get on with the scanning, so I'll rest my case. Many thanks to Päivi, our host and guide! It was a nice trip. Maybe I got bitten by a travel bug...

James Hadley Chase's "The Flesh of the Orchid": the Canadian reprint (yup, that's the same Harlequin) from the late fourties. Courtesy Steve Everett.

Schaefer's book. It's from 1999.

Berlin, part three

Did I promise to say something about the books I bought? I thought that Berlin would be a good place to buy new English books and that they would have a good stock of new noir and hardboiled, maybe something from Hard Case Crime or Point Blank Press. And that Berlin would have lots of good used book stores that stock English books. But no. Actually: hell, no! The English section of a big book shop (I forget the name, but it has three stores in it, so it cannot be small) was even smaller than the ones in Finland! I did find books to buy, though: "Hard Rain" by Pelecanos, a paperback reprint of Elmore Leonard's Western novel from the fifties, and Scott Phillips's "Cottonwood" that is a sequel or actually prequel to "The Ice Harvest" which I was reading during our trip and which is simply wonderful.

We visited the Helmut Newton show at the museum of photography: very nice kinkiness, with stylish hint of sexual violence in every picture; not for everyone, of course, but then again these are quite stylish and commercial. The museum had a very good book shop and I ended up buying a large book about the cultural history of photography, a history of striptease dancing (!), and the New York sex scene, with lots stuff about rock music and sleaze publishing.

Later on we found a very nice art bookshop at Savignyplatz that had a great deal of English books. I was trying to decide whether I should buy a book on European Art Deco or a book on micro cars of the sixties or something about the surrealism or the Soviet futurism, but then I decided to drop it. I was so overwhelmed by the abundance of the books - which was good since I noticed later that if I had bought the books, we wouldn't have had money enough to eat...

They also had a separate shop for the cinema books, where I found "More Than Night", an excellent study of film noir, by James Naremore, and "Hollywood Babylon" by Kenneth Anger. The most interesting book was by far "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959" by Eric Schaefer which chronicles the classical exploitation film that flourished at the same time as the classical Hollywood cinema: educational sex cinema, reefer movies, African travelogues filmed in the backyard of the producers etc. It's huge with over 470 pages and academic: it's from Duke University Press. There was lots of other interesting stuff on film noir, but I decided I don't have the money...

Hmm.. was that all? We went to the big flea market near the Zoo, but didn't find any books. Well, there were several interesting books, such as the biography of Georges Bataille, but only in German... The English books were nowhere in sight. I saw some very clumsy hardback Westerns in German by such pulp authors as L.P. Holmes. I should've taken a picture of them, since I can't find any in the web. We did buy a very funny plush rhino from the fifties. I'll put a photo here once it's ready and scanned.

Next: the sightseeing.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fan fiction

I've said something here about fan fiction earlier - when I had a Tolkien binge - and I have written an article for Pulp about the Tarzan clones in which I also mentioned the ERB fan fiction. The theme has risen in Lee Goldberg's blog * and has sure raised some bad blood. He's had over 90 comments on one of his posts on the subject! And, boy, are they furious!

The answers are not very literate, to say the least. I especially like this one:

"Naomi rocks! You are stupid! Fanfic rules the earth! We are smater [sic] and better writers then you are one!
Fanfic writers will out-sell all other writers one day becaause fanfic RULES!
You will wither and die under our mighty brains and are pens!!!
If you knew what your talking about you would write fanfic but you don't! FANFIC RULES!!!!!"

That sums up the basic fan fiction writer for you, huh? No wonder Lee Goldberg is so pissed at these fellows...

Ah, just kidding. I don't really understand the urge to write fan fic about some new writers. What's the point doing new Harry Potters? Or Kay Scarpettas? Boooooooring (and it's just one way to participate in the marketing the new books and their bestseller authors, who certainly don't need any marketing).

But - this may be illogical or paradoxical - I can understand the idea of writing fan fiction based on some old stuff, say, Burroughs or Tolkien. It's no way to guarantee any good writing, sure, but at least you wouldn't be part of the business. Don't tell me that the fan fiction stuff is there to undermine the real thing - no no. It's just a way to take part in the consumer society. Now, write something set in the universe of, say, Otis Adelbert Kline. Where's the commerce in that?

I've been toying with the idea of doing some fan fiction myself. But only to stay in the world of the obsolete and obscure. I already have two stories about Mikko Jarmo, who is a private eye in the war time Helsinki. Jarmo was the invention of a pseudonymous Finnish magazine author Jaakko Ensio in the early fourties. Provided I find the time I'll write some day a new Tarsa novel - Tarsa being a brain child of one Lahja Talakivi, a Finnish Tarzan-clone from the era of the Winter War, a wild man born by wolves. I'll just add some twists...

But, now I could ask, is this fan fiction? There have been hundreds of Sherlock Holmes pastiches and parodies and I don't think Lee Goldberg has nothing against them. (May have written one or two himself, for all I know.) They have never been called fan fiction. For some reason, fan fiction is fan fiction because it's not professionally produced. Is that fair?

Heck. There seems to be no good answer for the discussion, but I guarantee that you cannot escape fan fiction, because it's at the core of our consumer society and the almost violent need to be somebody. You can imagine being there with J.K. Rowling or Patricia Cornwell if you write stories with the same characters, same setting, all that. And that's just what everybody wants.


I didn't mean to write this. Hey, we just got back from Pori where we spent the weekend with my mother. Weather was nice, and so were the Finnish flea markets and book stores. I saw some home movies my brother Matias (the man from the Demars, you remember?) has made with his buddies. Exhilarating. I saw the first two parts of the Blatnaja series, about a Russian hitman. The guys have dubbed the thing in pseudo-Russian. It's just great. "Faschist muschinaya!"

* Oh, I almost forgot. For the Finnish readers, the name Lee Goldberg doesn't mean much. He's an American novelist, specializing in tie-ins of the TV series (Diagnosis: Murder and Monk; I don't know if the former has been shown here) and non-fiction books on TV shows.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A five-year old poet

I found a rather recent book in the library consisting of poems by a five-year old boy, Elias Tenkanen. It's quite nice and I've translated bits of it (hope no one's accusing me of stealing or anything).


He's just a nice child
children are calm
it's not a child's fault
blueberry can drop all by itself.



I'm a French-speaking mother
I say "unklendo"
it means "you cannot walk"
I'm the mother to all my children
and all of them can walk.


I saw some air fish flying up here
I caught them
and ate them.


Poems are difficult
sounding like the same words
quite like the same.



it pitches the door open
and then it's there
and falls into a paper

with pen
from pen on to the paper
and it knows what's going on
and says


If I knew what I was doing
when I long in the world
to be by the boring?

In the world
I'd build something as lovely as this
I'd poetize the best poem.


The book is called "Goes Round Like a Charmed Day" and is over 70 pages long. It's published by Kansan Sivistystyön Liitto (um... the Union for the Civilization of the People... uh.. forget it, but the book is wonderful).

"Berlin, third message" on its way. Tomorrow. Maybe not. Damn, this proof reading is a boring job!

Berlin, second message

Actually this is about flying.

Most of you reading this know that I hadn't flown before. It wasn't because I had a flight scare or something. Well, I have a scare of high places - it developed only when I became a father. I've waken several times from a dream in which I see my kids fall from a window or a balcony. I used to play around at roofs when I was twenty or younger. We even made a film at the roof of a seven-story building with a friend of mine. I photographed with a 8 mm camera when he jumped from a small maintenance shack to the actual roof of the house, only two or three meters from the threshold. No way, man, I'd do that now!

It's just that I haven't felt that travelling is a necessity. And I've been pretty poor all my life. I've put all the extra money I've had into books (and lately clothes, snob that I am).

Now I flew to Germany. The first take-off was quite an experience. The houses and cars and all that escaped me so fast I couldn't believe it. And suddenly I was above clouds. The weather on Friday was so beautiful that there weren't many clouds - I saw more of them when we came back. Boy, were they beautiful. The land seems pretty odd from up there. You recognize that's the stuff the maps are made of, but you don't really realize that until you see it yourself.

We had to land in Helsinki and fly off again to Berlin, so there were two take-offs. My ears went dumb when we came to Berlin, maybe due to bad weather, and I got a bit of a headache. The take-offs and landings were the situations that would've scared me off if that had been the case. When we set off for the return, for a brief moment I had a thought: this thing is up in the air and there's not much to keep it there. But I decided that I won't think of it again. Elina said that it's so absurd to be so high. And that's true. You can't grasp that with rational thought.

When we came back and flew over the Baltic Sea, the weather was so nice that I could see the little flows in the water. It was nice.

Is it common that you want to experience the take-offs again? I mean it wasn't very pleasant, but it was something akin to rollercoaster rides. I don't like those either, but the idea of getting into one speeds up my blood. (Last Summer I declined the idea of going to the rollercoaster with Ottilia, but I think this Summer I can't...)

Next message will be about the books I bought and the book shops in Berlin in general.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Chase, once again

It's "The Flesh of the Orchid" and it's from 1948. The Finnish translation is from 1966. The French film is from 1975. Check it here.

The Finnish cover for Chase's novel. I don't know the artist. I should suspect one Heikki Ahtiala, but he usually signed his work. This is from the mid-sixties.

Berlin, first message

First the books.

I read two books during our trip. The first one was Scott Phillips's debut novel "The Ice Harvest" from 2000. It has received hearty recommendations and is indeed worth every one of them. It's funny in a very difficult way: you don't feel like laughing when you're reading the book, because the stuff is so grim and violent, but when you start explaining to someone what's happening (as I did several times to Elina) you realize that it's actually very funny. Try this and you'll notice it's not easy.

For the Finnish reader, the premise might be a bit implausible, because Phillips relies much on the fact that the US folks cannot drive their cars if there's snow. Use the goddam winter tires! That's why they were invented!

The book reminds me a bit of old crime paperbacks and it's full of intrigue and double crosses and partners in crime killing each other, but you couldn't mistake "The Ice Harvest" having been written in the 1950s.

The second book I had with me was James Hadley Chase's sequel to his debut, "No Orchids for Miss Blandish". Someone has torn away the title page of the copy I have, so I don't really know what's the original title. (Even I don't bother to check all the time.) The book is very absurd and very implausible, but you never know if it's because Chase was a poor writer or because he wanted it to be so. There's a ridiculous thing about having a law according to which if you escape from the mental institute and manage to not get caught in fourteen days, you get to go free. What the fuck? If you manage to forget all this, I guess the book could be enjoyable. There *are* some genuinely chilling moments and Chase has a knack for outrageous violence, but in the end it's a rather empty book.

The French director Patrice Chereau made a film from this in the early eighties (or late seventies?). It emphasized the dream-like quality that I think is involuntary in the book and is a much better work of art. I should check the title of this as well, but I'm too lazy. Instead I'll scan the cover.

Here's the route Kauto took when he brought me the piece of paper. He walked all the way through the hall to the study.

Kauto walking

I realized that I've been writing too little about Kauto. He's an amazing kid. Today he opened the door to the toilet where I was shaving. It was closed, I swear it. He reached to the latch, pulled it down, peeked in and smiled broadly!

Today he also took a piece of paper from the garbage paper bag and walked all the way to the study to give the paper to me! It was clear that he had a mission. I'll draw a picture of the act; the walk was about seven or eight meters. I'll put it here in just a sec'.


I'll write about Berlin in a next message. I thought that I'd wait for the pictures (we were the only tourists in town who didn't have a digital camera), but there's too much stuff to write.

Just a short note

We got safely back from Berlin yesterday. I'll post a bigger travelogue later on. Now I'm swamped with work: I'll have to get the movie index to "White Heat" done and check the drafts for the horror book by Friday (I also had to edit the Gallagher entry that came from Toni J. today and check the interview for the Aikalainen magazine). Won't post until the index is done.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What I'd really like to write - really?

I wrote a week back thus:

"I'd be even happy to write for a publisher like West-kirjat who made four large-sized paperbacks with ugly covers in the mid-sixties."

Here's one of the books West-kirjat published. It's by one Ylpö Salonen and it's called "Hekumat kirot/The Curses of Lust". Yes, it's ugly and the book has been reported to be pretty bad. And it's actually a reprint. Ylpö Salonen is a pseudonym, but no one knows who it really was. Except the guys at West-kirjat - whoever they were. The first edition came from Kustannusliike Kaleva in 1932, and I think that was as small as West-kirjat. At the time it was called "Suvun kirous/The Family Curse".

But hey, whoever Ylpö Salonen was, he got some money out of this (unless the book was pirated). The same with Kaarlo Nuorvala, the hacker extraordinaire. He got a reprint from his mildly erotic South Sea novel "Etelän rakastava tytär/The Loving Daughter of the South" that had earlier been published by E. Viljanteen kirjakauppa (the book shop of E. Viljanne, whoever he was) in 1946. It was published as by Alex d'Ornot (catchy pseudonym there, huh?). (I'll put the cover of that book here in the near future. It's just as great as "The Curse of Lust".)

It's intriguing to think what kind of world was out there when these things happened. Couldn't happen nowadays - unless in the just as confusing world of POD publishers and vanity presses. There are dozens and dozens of authors who published a book or two in the seventies or eighties and dropped out. Now they can have their early work reprinted or even new ones. Finland has some professional authors who have had books published by vanity presses - Harri Raitis and Boris Hurtta, for example. (Hurtta's publishing career (check it here) reminds me of those bygone days of West-kirjat and other entrepreneurs.)

But for some reason I'd be more happy with West-kirjat and E. Viljanteen kirjakauppa, cheapo houses they may have been. Maybe it's because you can't live by writing for vanity presses. There are of course exceptions, but no POD books have been bestsellers in Finland, as some seem to have been in the US. But maybe future will prove me wrong. We'll see.

A Finnish Hank Jason, illustrator unknown (maybe Spanish). It's a triple book, but not in the Ace Double fashion. This cover is the best of the three, the rest are quite appalling.

The cover of Boys Will Be Boys. It's fascinating reading, even though the stuff is largely unknown to the Finnish audience (including me).

My first jeans

I *did* go shopping yesterday and bought a pair of jeans. Now, this may seem rather trivial to many of you, but I haven't had jeans for almost ten years! (Well, I had one pair that I found in a trashcan outside the supermarket, but I used them rarely and ditched them, say, in 1998.) I've been wearing slacks since. Lately I've felt that I could use some redecoration in my public image.

My bible in these matters has for years been Quentin Crisp's and Donald Carroll's "How To Do It With Style" that says that whatever you do, you have to be consistent. At least you mustn't give up to the temptations of fashion. And that's just what I've now done! You can blame me an opportunist...

Elina said that if they look great, there's not necessarily point in making it an identity thing. And indeed, they look good with low waist and flared leg. They fall somewhere between the rock jeans and the loose hip hop jeans. (And here I'm hoping to look like an intellectual...)

But hey, I'm not alone. Tosikko here did the same thing. (It's in Finnish.)


Of to more literary and cultural (hey, fashion is culture!) matters: I started writing the short story for Tapani's anthology. It will be situated in the early eighties in Pori, where I was raised and lived for 18 first years of my life. There's a punk band called The Murha (Der Murder) with a female singer and a young cop investigating a supposed drug charge. I don't exactly know what will happen, but I think there will be enough turns and twists.

I also received the final drafts of "White Heat". Now I have only to compile the movie index... Not a small job for 429 pages!

We are going to Berlin and leaving on Friday, so don't expect anything before we get back next week. pHinn hoped for some images. I hope we'll find some obsolete building that no one's interested in so that I can take a photo for my obsolete building archives. And maybe we'll go to the zoo, in case you haven't seen animals before. (You may gather that I'm not much of a photographer.)

Reading: old Hank Jasons and Boys Will Be Boys, the history of British penny dreadfuls and early magazine fiction.

Poem in Finnish

Syytökset, väitteet, avuttomat ihmiset,
meille annetaan tietoja ylhäältä,
on se hyvä että jotkut tietävät paremmin,
kaiken maailman rasittavat typerykset osaavat enemmän kuin me,
yhteiskunta auttaa heitä parhaansa mukaan:
antaa heille työpaikat ja rahaa,
muut jäävät ilman,
perhoset kiertelevät ympäriinsä vatsassa,
minkäänlaiset täyskäännökset eivät auta,
kukaan ei tule meitä vastaan junalle,
kaikki, kaikenlaiset ajatukset,
murhanhimoiset, väärät, syntiset,
kuolemaa kaipaavat, itsemurhaa haikailevat,
entiset kandidaattimme, eiliset muistomme,
kukin saa elää tahollaan,
mutta muistakaa ettei saa lyödä avutonta,
aurinkoisellakaan ilmalla
matkustajia ei saa hylätä tienpientareelle,
palkat pitää maksaa ajoissa,
kuka muuten tekee työt,
minulle on maksettu taannoin jokin summa,
koiran palkkioita nekin olivat,
kuinka voisin parhaiten avustaa itseäni ja yhteiskuntaa:
menemällä lähelle ja näyttämällä viatonta naamaa,
kasvot ovat naamio,
kuinka voisin parhaiten tajuta sen,
mikä joillekin näyttää olevan itsestäänselvää:
itsellä on parhaat edellytykset selvitä,
kaikki muut ovat esteitä tiellä,
kivettyjä aikomuksia,
kaduttuja tekoja, aikeita, elkeitä,
leivän murutkin voi laskea yksitellen,
niitä sataa Azerbaidzhanissa,
ne ovat armeijoiden jakamaa ravintoa yksinkertaisille,
sammakot putoilevat:
se on ikiaikainen kosto,
jo ammoisilta ajoilta tunnettu,
mutta jatkunee vielä kauan.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Work done, pt. 2

There were some misdemeanors today. Elina went to the unemployment's office obligatory info, but sat there for an hour feeling totally useless. No new info from the previous time and no questions were permitted! I also hassled with a contributor to the horror book about some points in his entry. There was some other stuff, too, and I began to feel irritated.

One thing nice about today is that the Sun is shining. Also: "Joe Novak and the Case of the Missing Treasure Map" is a good story, very funny and touching. I edited it and it's ready for Isku. I also found out that I just might be able to use Marton Taiga's pirate story I found in a 1958 magazine for free. It is piracy (no pun intended), since the man died in 1969, but there is no trace of relatives taking care of copyright. They don't seem to want the money. This is often the case in Finland: no one's interested in keeping up an author's work.

Maybe I'll just go shopping for the rest of the day...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Work done

I rewrote the Beckford entry, as I added some stuff from the foreword by Malcolm Jack in "The Vathek Episodes" that I found in Varastokirjasto. I also found a great site that has stories and tales by Beckford here. They are quite difficult to read, since they are not edited.

I also finished off the Joe Novak pirate story. I thought I'd have difficulties ending it, but I think it turned out fine and I was even able to put some sort of warmth in it. As I say somewhere, maybe in Isku's editorial, Joe Novak is the most sympathetic P.I. in Los Angeles.

Why do I write stuff situated in America? I don't know. Maybe it's the pastiche thing. It wouldn't work in Finland. No one hires private detectives in Finland. At least to deal with the things Joe Novak does.

I also took out some homosexuality stuff from the YA novel I wrote with Elina. It has no good title at the moment. It was Kokkisotatyttö/Girl of the Cook Wars, since Sade in the lead wanted all the time to make food. Now I don't know what it should be.

Then I finally posted the Pulps. Sorry about the header in the editorial: it's from the previous issue! It looks pretty stupid...

Monday, June 06, 2005

My father in 2003, at the Yyteri beach. Does it still say "kukkuu"? (Or he, actually...)

This is a test picture. Does this still say "kukkuu"? How do I get rid of it?

Vathek's British paperback edition (NEL 1966); don't know the illustrator; I think I bought this one with only one markka several years back

Henry Klinger's Essence of Murder (Perma 1963)

Borges on Vathek

Someone sent me an URL for an essay in which Jorge Luis Borges talks about Beckford's Vathek. Very interesting, especially when Borges says that Beckford's creation in the end of the novel is the first atracious Hell in literature (he says that Dante's Hell is not atracious).

Check it out:

Henry Klinger

I checked the article Bill mentioned having written. Yes, it's in the first edition (1980) of 20th Century Crime and Mystery Writers. The books are usually about a Israeli police on trip in the USA, picking up clues from his American colleagues. The chapters begin with bits of Jewish wisdom. It seems that Bill didn't like Klinger's books and I don't think I will bother. I'll post the cover at some point, though, because it was pretty nice. (What was left of it after Kauto got hold of it.)

But who was he? There's no information with Bill's article. Google finds several Henry Klingers.

It's not this, since then he would've written his books while he was 15. Not impossible, but rather unlikely...

This could be him, if he has a fascination for old cars:

Is it a pseudonym? The TV show M*A*S*H* had characters called Henry and Klinger.

Oh well, I guess we'll never know. Unless the real Henry Klinger does a vanity google and finds his name in here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

My daughter Ottilia (left) and her friend Anni.
Now I know how to post pictures! I'm a genius! Now I flood your computers with blood-curdling pulp fiction covers! And can't really wait to begin... (Drool drool...)

Oops; Vathek and Chamisso; Jimmy Neutron

I wrote yesterday having bought a paperback by one Henry Klinger. After I had written the thing I left the book on the desk and Kauto took it and ripped the cover off. Oh well, it wasn't very expensive.


I forgot to mention that I got through "Vathek" in the train. There were some great scenes in the subterranean parts, in which Vathek finds the ancient, pre-Adamite gods (shades of Lovecraft, eh? or the other way around; Lovecraft must've known the book (I don't know where my copy of his "Supernatural Horror in Literature" is, so can't check right now (by the way, if I ever put up a "real" publisher, Lovecraft's essay will be one to be translated (where was I?))). I also read Adalbert von Chamisso's "The Man Who Sold His Shadow". It was better than I remembered (read it while I was 17 or so) and I even had forgotten it's about losing a shadow, not a Doppelgänger. (Given the title, one might ask: what was I thinking?)


Those who know me better know that I'm not much interested in playing computer or video games. At the moment, though, I'm playing Gotta Blast, of the Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius fame! (A critical mind in me says that while this is a rather peaceful game (you shoot only the meteors), it teaches accepting war-time techniques and technologies and prepares the way for the computer-controlled warfare for the kids to learn and use later on.)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Good news; Flea market tour, pt. 2

I read from today's newspaper that the funds for writers from Suomen tietokirjailijat (The Finnish Non-Fiction Writers) were announced. Even though the names of all the recipients were not mentioned in the paper, I thought that I didn't get anything, since I hadn't been told in a letter. I rushed to open the computer and went to their website. And there I was - I've been given 2500 euros for writing the book on cinema for children. This saves our Fall - another two months to live...

I should also mention that Ville H. got his share, too. Congratulations!


We were on a two-day flea market tour with Tero and Susanna. Kauto was with his grandparents and seemed very happy about it. We went to Kangasala, Orivesi and Jämsä on Thursday and (without Elina) to Toijala and Valkeakoski on Friday. These are small places in Häme, the middle of Finland. The weather was good, so we had a nice trip.

As usual, the charity stores were more interesting than the bazaars. For some reason I haven't been able to fathom, there's more ephemeral and obscure stuff in charity stores run by the church or other organizations than in the bazaars where people can sell their own stuff and are run by some individual entrepreneur.

For example, in Toijala, which is a rather scrubby small town near Tampere, I found Japanese chopstick holders for children from the early eighties - nice colourful plastic, with figures out of Japanese animation. I haven't seen these anywhere in Finland before - as a matter of fact, I hadn't even known they exist. (They must be popular in Japan.) But there they were, in the cellar (!) of the Toijala parish's flea market. Also some children's textiles were pretty amazing at the same flea market (I really must learn how to post pictures here). The bazaars really let us down after that. One in Valkeakoski was like stepping into a new hospital: white, bare walls, too much light, very clinical. (The only thing of interest was a porn paperback from the eighties, part of the series called "Memoirs of the White Slaver". I didn't buy it, though.)

Maybe it's because people think this kind of weird stuff couldn't be worth selling and bringing to the bazaars. But then again, they seem to think that worn-out T-shirts are worth selling. And clothes that were fashionable five years ago, but couldn't really seem more out of date.

As for books, I got some, but nothing very interesting. On the paperback side, I got these:

Delmar Jackson: The Night Is My Undoing (aka The Cut of the Ax), Popular Library 1954 (the first edition was a hardback in 1953): the popular girl of a small town run by a racketeer is murdered
Henry Klinger: Essence of Murder, Permabooks 1963: a police novel, with an Israeli detective Shomri Shomar

Anyone read these? Bill? James? These came from a very large bazaar in Jämsä. Jämsä seemed quite a pretty town, with a small river flowing through. Some nice fifties' and sixties' buildings scattered around the center, with quite a lot of people going about. I kind of like these small towns - but I'm not really sure how long I could live in them. Jämsä had also a second hand book store which I checked in haste. And came out with one book: "The Mad Scientist Affair", by John T. Phillifent. It's from the Man from U.N.C.L.E. series. I already started reading it. Pure hokum, but fast-moving.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Book diary from last year's cabin trip

I remembered just now that I made last year (or a year before?) a book diary from out cabin weekend. I intended it for Pulp, but didn't get around to publish it. So, here it is, in Finnish unfortunately, but I'll make a short list with ratings (one to five).

Jonathan Valin: Extenuating Circumstances. 1989. ***
Brian Coffey: The Wall of Masks. 1975. ****
Karl Edward Wagner: Darkness Weaves. 1970/1978. ****
Georges Bataille, as by Lord Auch: A Story of an Eye/Histoire de l’oeil. 1928. * or *****
Katherine Neville: The Eight. 1988. ** (couldn't get through; read this first time in the late eighties and liked it very much at the time)


Maaliskuun lopulla vietimme Elinan kanssa neljä ja puoli päivää mökillä Dragsfjärdissa, Turun lähellä saaristossa. Oli vielä vähän kylmä ja päivät kuluivat kirjoja lukiessa. Seuraavassa lukupäiväkirja.

Jonathan Valinin Kosto (1989) on kirjailijansa ainoa suomennos, mikä tuntuu vähän hölmöltä, kun ottaa huomioon, kuinka laadukas kirjailija Valin on. Hänen yksityisetsivänsä Harry Stoner on sympaattinen, Lew Archeria muistuttava hahmo, joka välittää asiakkaistaan, joskus vähän liikaakin, ja joutuu ainakin tämän kirjan perusteella selvittämään samantyyppisiä asioita. Kunnianarvoisa liikemies ja kunnanvaltuutettu katoaa ja Stonerin pitää löytää hänet. Poliisi vain ehtii ensin – mies on kuollut.
Valin kirjoittaa terävästi ja kuljettaa juonta eteenpäin hyvin ja, kuten sanottu, Stoner on sympaattinen henkilö, mutta kirjan antama kuva homoista ja varsinkin sadomasokisteista on valitettavan epäilyttävä. Jokainen heistä tuntuu olevan mitä on jonkin lapsuuden trauman takia ja on sen takia valmis vaikka kuolemaan. Stoner minäkertojana esittää ymmärtämystä, mutta ei ole valmis myöntämään, että joku voi olla sadomasokisti tai homo tai molempia olematta ahdistunut tai ahdistava.

Brian Coffeyn eli kauhukirjailija Dean R. Koontzin Kiveen hakattu kuolema (1975) on tekijänsä harvoja rikosromaaneja. Tämän perusteella hän saisi kirjoittaa niitä enemmänkin. Suomalainen kustantaja mainostaa kirjaa ”seikkailuromaaniksi vanhan hyvän ajan malliin”, mutta enemmän tämä muistuttaa vaikkapa Donald Westlaken Richard Stark –kirjoja. Kirja vain sattuu tapahtumaan Meksikossa ja siinä varastetaan (moneen kertaan!) muinainen intiaanien kuvaseinä. Päähenkilönä on Mike Tucker, josta Koontz kirjoitti 70-luvulla kaksi muutakin teosta, Blood Risk (1973) ja Surrounded (1974) – nekin voisi kääntää. Tässä ei ole edes Koontzia nyttemmin riivaavaa kirjan lopettamisen kauhua – tiiviit 181 sivua riittävät hyvin.

Karl Edward Wagner oli nuorena kuollut kauhukirjallisuuden asiantuntija, joka toimitti monia hyviä antologioita ja pelasti unohdukselta paljon kirjailijoita, kuten J.U. Nicholsonin ja Mark Hansomin. Samalla Wagner kirjoitti itsekin kauhua ja fantasiaa. Suomennettu on Pimeyden verkot (1970), joka on vauhdikas Conan-pastissi, lovecraftilaisine muinaisine jumalineen ja järjettömän voimakkaine päähenkilöineen. Kirja on ensimmäinen osa Wagnerin Kane-sarjaa – viittaus Robert E. Howardin toiseen sankariin, Solomon Kaneen, on selvä. Tällaisen miekka ja magia –fantasian synkkyys ja julmuus on viihdyttävää, vaikka moni voisi kyseenalaistaa väkivallan ja vallan välisen yhteyden.
Kirjan julkaisi alun perin pieni kalifornialainen Powell, mutta kustantaja lyhensi romaania 30 000 sanalla ja muutti Kanen ulkonäköä sopimaan paremmin kansikuvaan (Wagnerin mukaan kannessa oli ”Cassius Clay oransseissa alushousuissa”). Sittemmin julkaistut laitokset ovat lyhentämättömiä ja suomennoskin on tehty sellaisen pohjalta.

Kuuluisan antropologi Georges Bataillen Silmän tarina ei ehkä kuulu tähän sarjaan. Toisaalta – mikä tahansa salanimellä ilmestynyt pornokirja on Pulpin alaa! Bataille julkaisi kirjansa salanimellä Lord Auch vuonna 1928 ja se on sittemmin julkaistu kyllä ihan pulp-tyyppisestikin, kalifornialaisen Brandon Housen kustantamana 1968. Myös keskisuuri pokkarifirma Berkley julkaisi kirjan 80-luvulla.
Bataille oli vähän aikaa surrealistien jäsen 20-luvulla, minkä huomaa Silmän tarinastakin. Silmien, munien ja kivesten kanssa läträäminen muistuttaa jossain määrin Buñuelin Andalusialaisen koiran (1929) silmänhalkaisua. Väkivaltainen ja orgastinen kuolema kirjan lopussa on samalla jumalanpilkkaa parhaiden surrealististen perinteiden mukaan – joukkoraiskauksen ja kuristamisen kohteena on katolinen pappi, joka riistetään kirkon lattialle rippikopista.
Jotain vanhentunutta Bataillen kirjassa on. Jotkut kohdat tuntuvat itseparodisilta, kuten alkupuolen munapelleily. Sivuhenkilö Sir Edmond ainakin on selvää parodiaa aikakauden pornografian julmista aatelisista (tai miksei vaikka jostain Brontën sisarusten teoksesta).

Katherine Nevillen järkälemäinen Musta kuningatar (1988) on Suomessa julkaistu kovakantisena, mutta alun perin se on Ballantinen pokkari. Kirja on sekoitus naisten romantiikkaa, historiallista romaania ja Umberto Econ Foucaultin heiluria muistuttavaa mystiikan, numerologian ja salaliittoteorioiden esittelyä. Neville sahaa eestaas Ranskan vallankumouksen ja 1970-luvun alun välillä – henkilöinä on niin Robespierreä ja Jean-Paul Maratia kuin nokkelia moderneja naisia ja salamyhkäisiä ja komeita tietokoneasiantuntijoita ja shakinpelaajia.
Kirjan henkilöt metsästävät kaikki Kaarle Suuren shakkilautaa, joka kuulemma sisältää arvoituksen ja sen ratkaisun – kuka hallitsee maailmaa ja miten? Koko homma on tietysti aivan naurettava, mutta parhaimmillaan Neville saa homman kuulostamaan kiehtovalta ja jännittävältä. Huonoimmillaan Musta kuningatar ylimaalailee ja hehkuttaa, kun lihat yhtyvät harvinaislaatuisissa nautinnoissa.
Juri Nummelin

Lukupäiväkirjan bibliografiat:

Jonathan Valin: Kosto. Suom. Pertti Koskela. Book Studio 1996. Alun perin Extenuating Circumstances. Delacorte Press 1989.
Brian Coffey: Kiveen hakattu kuolema. [Kannessa lukee: Dean Koontz nimellä Brian Coffey.] Suom. Reijo Kalvas. Book Studio 1996. Alun perin The Wall of Masks. Bobbs Merrill 1975.
Karl Edward Wagner: Pimeyden verkot. Suom. Mika Renvall. WSOY 1992. Alun perin Darkness Weaves. Powell 1970; Warner 1978.
Georges Bataille: Silmän tarina. Suom. Seppo Tuokko. Odessa 1986. Alun perin salanimellä lordi Auch: Histoire de l’oeil. René Bonnel 1928.
Katherine Neville: Musta kuningatar. Suom. Seppo Loponen. Wsoy 1989. 2. painos: Suuri Suomalainen Kirjakerho 1989. (2. painos sisältää Nevillen esipuheen.) Alun perin The Eight. Ballantine 1988.


Työkkäriltä tuli tänään kirje, jonka mukaan minun piti ilmoittaa nykyinen tilanteeni. Juuri eilen, kun Elina kävi äitiysloman päätteeksi ilmoittautumassa työkkäriin, puhuimme siitä, miten työvoimatoimisto ahdistaa ihmisiä kyttäämällä ja valvomalla. Olen jo jonkin aikaa ollut kirjoilla töissäkäyvänä työnhakijana ja olin luullut, että tässä tapauksessa ei tällaista valvontaa ole (ja joskus kun aiemmin oli sama tilanne, mitään kirjeitä ei tullut). Soitin työkkäriin ja ilmoitin - melkein hermostuin näsäviisaalle virkailijalle - etten ole enää työnhakija.

Ihan kuin työkkäristä olisi minulle joskus jotain hyötyä ollut - olen kerran saanut työtarjouksen - Oulusta. (Vai olikohan se jokin yliopiston rekrypalvelu?) Täytyy myöntää, että pääsin työkkärin kautta taitto- ja kuvankäsittelykurssille ja sitä duuniahan olen tehnyt hyvin paljon - eipä tulisi Pulpia ja Iskua ja muita, jos en osaisi taittaa!

Oli miten oli, olen koko ajan inhonnut työkkärin painostusta ja ilmoittautumisia ja raportointeja. Ihan kuin päämäärä ei olisi työllistäminen, vaan se, että työtön pysyy kurissa ja käy kiltisti kertomassa virkailijoille, mitä elämään kuuluu. Se on ahdistavaa, oikeasti.

Mutta nyt on helpottunut olo - vaikka luulisi, että kun ei ole enää mahiksia saada päivärahaa, tulevaisuus pelottaisi. Ehkä vähän, mutta ei paljon. Pelko on oikeastaan vähemmän inhottavaa kuin ahdistus ja tuntu siitä, että koko ajan joku katselee selän takana ja kyselee mitä teen.

Olenkin siis vakaasti kansalaispalkan kannalla. Kaikille sama summa rahaa kuussa, niin työvoimatoimistot voidaan lakkauttaa! (No, ei ehkä ihan niinkään, mutta kyttäämisorganisaatio ainakin!)

Writing jealousy

James Reasoner announced having written his # 177 novel. While I heartily want to congratulate him (he must be one of the prolicic author of his generation), I'm extremely jealous. It's just what I want to do: churn out paperbacks after another. Here I'm stuck with having to do non-fiction books that involve a heavy deal of research and perhaps interviews (I actually hate doing interviews and would want to be only the interviewee!).

I'm not nostalgia type of guy in any sense, but I think that I could do better with the publishing industry that existed in Finland in the decades just after the World War II, when there were dozens of new cheapo publishers. I just glimpsed journalist Aake Jermo's book about the war-time and post-war depression. He writes that some guys he barely knew in Turku came to meet him and told that they had put up a publishing house and wanted something to publish. So, Jermo who had previously penned several short stories for the Finnish pulps (he doesn't say this in his memoirs, though) wrote two very short crime novels as by Riku Rauta (roughly Rick Steel). That's just what I'd like to happen: some guys I barely know come to me and ask if I could write something for them. I'd be even happy to write for a publisher like West-kirjat who made four large-sized paperbacks with ugly covers in the mid-sixties.

Same goes for the YA novels. They are very difficult and intricate today and you have to deal with the extreme problems: anorexia, drugs, neuroses, stuff like that. In the fourties, the only thing you had to do was to write some 50 pages of two bright boys finding the smugglers' den. You could even write a pirate novel, which seems quite far out these days. (Who would want to read a YA novel about the modern pirates of the China seas?)

And the paperbacks - you can't write paperbacks in Finland nowadays. Just give me a novelization to do! Anything!


Enough of complaints. I started going through the YA novel Elina and I wrote two years back. It has received good reviews from the publishers, but they haven't picked it up. The last publisher reporting back said that it had a bit too much of tendency in it. It's about the homosexuality of a young girl's father. I'm toning that aspect down and putting more stuff about the girl's everyday life in. I certainly hope that works. We have the sequel (and spin-offs!) planned, but should maybe get this published first...

The Joe Novak story about the missing treasure map is drawing to a close. It's been fun to write! I'm planning a real pirate story, though, and planning to write it under an alias. I should start the crime/music story for an anthology Tapani is editing. If it gets through, it will be my first professionally published story. Here's hoping...