Monday, October 30, 2006

Other top detective novels

These things just keep popping up in my head.

I don't know how I was able to forget Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles. It's still an interesting read, even though I'm not a fan of whodunnits. There's a strong atmosphere of grand adventure in the Holmes stories. In this, Doyle comes close to actual horror writing - in which he was quite apt.

James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss (translated in Finnish as Viimeinen kunnon suudelma). I've read this only once - on a trip I made with two friends of mine to Nordkapp, the northernest town in Europe. We had an old Beetle for a car and it took us four or five days. We slept in a tent at roadsides - I remember once putting the tent up almost in someone's backyard, because we couldn't see almost anything in the night! We almost hit a reindeer somewhere in the northern Norwegian, but I saw the car's lights' reflection on the animal's eyes and yelled "stop!" just in time.

I liked the book very much, but couldn't care for Crumley's The Mexican Tree Duck. Didn't even try the other translated novels.

Charles Willeford's Sideswipe, with Hoke Moseley. The book convinced me that Willeford is a genius. I'd had some trouble with some of his novels, but not anymore. I also like Willeford's early novel Wild Wives, which is a PI story. It's quite crude, but very exhilarating. I so hope that a Finnish paperback publisher would've grabbed this in the early sixties - or any other Willeford paperback. No such luck.

We want Jonathan Valin!

Over at The Rap Sheet, there was a recent poll on what mystery writer readers would like to return. Most nominations went to Jonathan Valin, one of the hardboiled crime writers who emerged in the late eighties. I've read the only translated Valin, Kosto (Book Studio 1996; originally Extenuating circumstances, Delacorte 1989) and while I liked it quite a bit - the atmosphere was nicely gritty and Valin's hero, Harry Stoner, was a likable character - I was also disturbed by the manner in which Valin described the people who are into sadomasochism. It was like they were all potential killers, maniacs on the loose, ready to inflict pain on anyone and enjoy it. I found that quite unlikable in the book and haven't grabbed any other Valins to read, even though I have one whose title escapes me.

Here's what I got to say about the book some years back (in Finnish).

Friday, October 27, 2006

A cartoon with Kauto and me

I've been posting here occasionally cartoons that I've made - mainly about my family. Here's another one - it's made on a train ticket and I think I made it on a train, perhaps to amuse Kauto and try to keep him away from doing any harm.

I found the drawing recently in a bag I hadn't used for a long time and wanted to save it for the future reference. (Note the sarcastic tone.)

In the picture Kauto is wearing a t-shirt with a chainsaw. I think the shirt was actually on me - it's from H&M. Instead I'm having a nice flower shirt the kind of which I own quite many, in different colours.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This and that on crime fiction, pt. 2: Blacksad, Malet/Tardi, Poe

Read the Spanish graphic novel Blacksad by Juan Canales and Juanjo Guardino last night. It's a very well-drawn noir piece set in the late early fifties New York and John Blacksad is a private eye in a trench coat. What sets him apart from some other trench-wearing PI's is that he's a cat. Other characters are also animals - there's a duo of a rhino and a bear working as bodyguards, a gorilla being a champion boxer, a Schaefer is a police lieutenant, and so forth.

Blacksad is very well drawn, as I said, and some of the animal characters are aptly described, but it left me a bit cold. The graphic novel has won some prizes, but for me it was just another sadly clichéd private eye yarn. Even the noir mood seems worn out. The plot wasn't much and the script writer did unnecessary tricks to hide the baddie - unnecessary because he hadn't been seen earlier. It's a series, maybe it'll get better.

While reading this, I was reminded of yet another great detective novel: Leo Malet and Jacques Tardi's 120 Rue de la Gare. I don't know if it's been translated in English (from a quick Google, I'd say not), but some of Malet's Nestor Burma novels are available in English. This one is a graphic novel by Tardi based on Malet's novel and having read two or three Malet's novels, I'd say that this is hugely better. Tardi's drawings bring depth and width to the plot (which isn't very easy to follow; it's about WWII time secrets) and his characters are warm, yet robust. Certainly one of the top 10 material, most certainly.*


On Poe: I got my hands on the finished product yesterday and could concentrate on it more fully. Just finished his first crime story, perhaps the most influential crime story in the annals of literature, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". It's a gripping piece alright, but no one would get away with it anymore: "The murderer is a friggin' monkey? C'mon, get outa here!"

From the ones I've just read, "A Descent into the Maelstrom" is one of the most powerful. Poe's funnies are, as I said earlier, nothing to laugh about and I dropped one or two of them. Just looking at his picture is enough to guarantee me that this man is not funny. (Is he having a hangover in that picture, by the way? Look at those eye bags!)

* I was checking up on Malet on Abebooks and found this. For only 15-year old paperbacks, they sure come pricy. It also seems that some of Tardi's graphic novels based on Malet have been translated in English, but don't seem to be available. Check out this from Thrilling Detective.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This and that on crime fiction

Remembered another great detective novel:

James Reasoner: Texas Wind (very short, with some 130 pages or so in the trade paperback reprint, but very satisfactory)

Dorothy Hitchens's Sleep With Slander could also just sneak in. Margaret Millar has a private eye in her great novel, A Stranger In My Grave, but I don't really know if it's a detective novel. But that could prove Peter's point when he said in a comment:

"Why can't we agree to call everything "crime," and just be happy? That way, we would stop having to worry so much about definitions and disagreements when we make lists."


Finished James Hadley Chase's espionage thriller, Have This On Me (1969), late last night. Pretty much okay: the action starts at page one and doesn't let up until the latter half and then it drags a bit just before it bursts again. One of the most entertaining Chases I've read. This one features Mark Girland, an ex-CIA agent who thinks freelancing is more profitable, in Prague after 30,000 $ some soldiers have stolen.


Saw Akira Kurosawa's High And Low (or Taivas ja helvetti, as it's known in Finland - meaning Heaven and Hell) last night at the film archive. It's based on a 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain, I think the title of that is Ransom. I don't know if I have read that one or not - it's been years since I've read any McBains (so many years that I'm actually pretty ashamed of myself) and I don't recall the details anymore. However, the first hour of the film is pretty damn striking: Toshiro Mifune, of the Yojimbo fame (one of the truly great heroes!), plays a shoe factory owner who's into a big money. Suddenly he gets a call - his son has been kidnapped. It's soon revealed, though, that the kidnapper has the shoemaker's servant's son instead. Will Mifune pay or not? He doesn't have to, but the servant is a friend to the family and the two sons are each others' buddies. But if he pays, his business and life are ruined.

After the first half, the film, yet well made, turns into a just another police procedural, and at times too long (and the Finnish subtitles didn't translate all the dialogue, which was frustrating). The ending was pretty powerful, though. The scenery in the film is pretty ordinary, save for the first half of the film, with striking black-and-white CinemaScope (don't really know, if it's CinemaScope, maybe it's something like TohoScope) strictly inside Mifune's modern villa. Some nice touches here and there, though.


Okei, sanotaan jotain Huhtiniemestäkin. Tuleva romaanikirjailija minussa ajattelee oikeastaan vain sitä, että rintamalla -44 tehtiin myös ufo-havaintoja.

Michael Marshall

When I was glancing through a list of coming books, I was disappointed to see yet another serial killer novel translated - Michael Marshall's The Straw Men was translated and it appeared earlier this year. I've been bored with the phenomenon for many years now and would really love to see some more original crime writing being translated.

But then I read this at the Rap Sheet (it has become a very popular blog at our house):

"All this reminded me of the time, a few years back, when I interviewed Michael Marshall, author of The Straw Men, The Lonely Dead (U.S. title: The Upright Man), and Blood of Angels. All three of those novels center around a huge conspiracy involving a cabal of genetically linked serial killers who--get this--date from the dawn of man, and continue to ply their devious talents even today. Pretty incredible, sure, but also terrifically imaginative and involving. I was concerned, after the release of Angels in 2005, that Marshall might return to his roots in horror and science fiction (where he’s known by his full name, Michael Marshall Smith). But the good folks over at HarperCollins UK have reassured me that Marshall will be releasing another left-of-field crime novel next spring, this one titled The Intruders. Let me just say that I’m looking forward to that book as if it were a missing lottery ticket."

Behind the link there's a lengthy interview with Michael Marshall (here's the link again). I'll definitely check the book out.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Edgar Allan Poe

I've been reading a yet-to-come Finnish collection of Edgar Allan Poe's stories - it includes all of his short stories! The book has over 1000 pages and it must be a huge item. I haven't seen the actual book yet and I've been reading the book on a computer screen from a PDF file, which is pretty tiresome and doesn't really make justice to Poe. I was supposed to write a review of the collection for the coming weekend (when there's the Helsinki Book Fair), but I just won't make it in time. Should have the real book in my hands, I could lie back on a couch and dwell in Poe's fantastic countries...

To my mind, though, Poe seems a bit dated now. It's perhaps a mistake from the publisher (it's Teos, by the way) to publish all of Poe's stories, because his funny stories aren't funny in the least and his science fiction seems only obscure by now.

But the new translation (by the Harry Potter translator, Jaana Kapari) brings out some new issues in Poe. More than ever before (in Finnish, that is), he seems now firmly to have been a precursor (and a contemporary) to many French poets. We've known all along that Baudelaire admired Poe and translated him, but Poe's influence on the generation of Baudelaire (and the next one, and perhaps many to come) has been huge. Poe's parodies, pastiches, wordplay, exuberant examples of literary allusions, heteroglossia (hey, I still know these words!), they all make him actually a quite postmodern writer. (Or post-postmodern.) Young scholars and translators have been digging up some mid-19th century and Decadent writers who all have their resemblances to Poe and been hailing them - such as Gerard de Nérval and J.-K. Huysmans.

If Poe's stories were to appear now, they'd be hailed as new weird, and the writer would be compared to Susanna Clarke and her Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (which I didn't like at all and which, to be true, isn't actually a part of the new weird movement at all, but I'd link the two). For some reason (someone should explain the cultural logic of this) it's the obscurity that appeals to the new readers and writers, and therefore Poe could now become out of the horror and the inventor of the short story ghetto he's been in.

So, could one say that Poe isn't dated, but he's very actual, because the new writers in the genre hark back to the cryptic language and weird self-invented mythology and literariness of Poe. He has been seen as the precursor of bad pulp writing (and there are scenes which could be out of Howard or Lovecraft), but he seems to be a precursor of great art. (Or "great art".) It's also evident now that Poe didn't only write exemplary short stories, but also played with the form - many of the stories are everything but strict short stories with a twist.

(I don't know if any of the above makes any sense to anyone, but I was thinking it out as I was writing. Will have to establish these thoughts later on in Finnish.)

Poetry, pt. 56

Wonder if I should put up a new blog, dedicated to my poetry. But before that happens, here's some new ones. Don't know if they're any good, but they seem to be healthy for me. Sorry, in Finnish, again. Next time I'll be writing about James Hadley Chase again, Benjamin Appel, a forth-coming low-end pulp magazine, the new issues of Isku and Pulp, and so forth.

By the way, Elina said that reading my poems at Pulpetti are a depressing experience. It has always seemed that I write only about negative stuff. Don't know why this is. Maybe I just can't think that positive feelings are worthy to write about. Maybe these are noir poems. (Fat chance, brother!) Now, back to real work.

Kun ei laihdu, niin ei laihdu, kuihtuu pois, turvotus lisääntyy,
kaikkien maailmojen yhteiset nimittäjät,
pienimmät ovat maailman armoilla, suurimmat ovat maailmasta poissa,
jossain kaukana, taivaalla lentävät, saavat lentääkin,
minun puolestani, en paljon jaksaisi välittää
mistään mitä sanotte: kuihtukaa pois vähäisimmästäkin sanasta,
menkää menojanne, tulkaa takaisin, olkaa poissa,
paikalla, läsnä, ylipäätään täällä,
puut kasvavat vaakasuoraan, minä näen sen ikkunastani,
sataa, miehet ovat töissä,
kurjuus lisääntyy kun he putoilevat telineiltä,
minä joudun kertomaan huonot uutiset perheille,
minä olen ollut aina se jolle käy huonosti,
hyvä tuuri, mäihä, nämä asiat pysyvät elämästäni kaukana,
kuinka se onkaan ollut joskus niin helppoa,
on vain kaatanut itselleen ja ottanut vielä hiukan lisää.


Taintuvat lyönnit osuvat parhaiten, parhaiten osuvat myös valeet,
puolitotuudet, satunnaiset sanonnat, fraasit, toistellessaan typeryyksiä
ihminen on vähiten velkaa itsellee, toisteisuus on kielen ominaisuus,
kuka on joskus sanonut näin sanoo sen vielä uudelleen tai itkee ja sanoo,
jalkapallo on omituinen peli: kun sen on hävinnyt, sen haluaa hävitä uudestaan,
pelit ovat minusta kaukana, minä olen vain ja ainoastaan kielipeli,
sellaisten mestari, kuka on tajunnut että kahvikupit ovat maailman salaliitto,
meitä vastaan suunnattu siis,
sellaisia sanomisia on viimeinkin ruvettu kutsumaan valheiksi,
minä kirjoitan ristiriidoista ristiriitaisesti, kuinka muutenkaan,
vihaisena on vaikea olla hiljaa, yhtä vaikea on olla kovaääninen,
pitäisi puhua kovempaa, se on jo liikaa vaadittu,
lyönti, tuosta ja tuosta, levylautasella Beethoven,
animoidut iskut, kukat, kukat lautasella ja ruukuissa,
syökää olkaa hyvä, istukaa olkaa hyvä, seisokaa olkaa hyvä, seinää vasten, noin, ihan kiva,
ja - nyyyt!
Hymyt hyytyvät viimeistään silloin
kun on työntänyt suuhunsa lopullisen annoksen loskaa.

(Tähän tuli tosi huono lopetus.)


On syytä lopettaa kun on kirjoittanut viimeisen rivin.
On syytä tarkistaa lumen valkoisuus.
On syytä edellyttää oman itsen koskemattomuus.
On syytä olla syyllinen.
On syytä löytää syyllinen ulkopuolelta.
On syytä syytää rahansa turhuuksiin.
On syytä löytää itsensä kadoksista.
On syytä käyttää karttaa.
On syytä tajuta taivaan harmaus.
On syytä mieltää maailma musteeksi, läikiksi paperilla, kahvikupista läikähtäneeksi.


Paljon parjatut olemukset tulevat takaisin,
kieli, kukkalapio, istutuslapio, olki, koirat,

minkä maailman me löydämmekään vielä.


Kuvittaja tai taiteilija, se ja sama, olen vihainen,
olen ennenkin ollut, joskus -95,
kun olin vielä pieni, silloin en tiennyt mitään,
nyt tiedän - tai ainakin voin sanoa tietäväni - kaiken,
kaiken tietämisen arvoisen,
älä kuule ala mulle,
muille voit ihan vapaasti,
avaudu terapiassa, olet silloin maailman kuvittaja,
luot uudenlaisia maailmoita, olet älykkö,
intellektuelli, kuinka tajuttavissa onkaan mielesi ja yksikkösi,
sotilaalliset määreet liikuttavat sinua,
kuinka väärässä olinkaan joskus aikaisemmin,
kun luulin kortit jo jaetun,
kun kuulin kirjat palautetun maailmaan,
kun tajusin että maailma on tällainen eikä muuksi muutu.
Mitä tahansa mitä teenkin, on vain sinulle.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Kinopalatsin puolesta

Pelastakaa Elokuvateatteri Kinopalatsi

Me adressin allekirjoittaneet haluamme että Tampereen kaupunki aloittaa toimet Kinopalatsin elokuvateatterin pelastamiseksi ja muuttamiseksi kulttuuritilaksi. Kinopalatsi tulisi siirtää laajaan kulttuurikäyttöön mukaanlukien muttei rajoittuen näihin:
-Elokuva-arkiston näytännöt
-Yksityiset elokuvaprojektit (esim. Star Wreck)
-Media-alan oppilastyönäytännöt
-Tilaan sopivat musiikkiesitykseet: Jazz, blues ja ylipäätään istualtaan kuunneltava musiikki
-Luennot ja esitelmät

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What was I thinking?

I realized only after I'd shut down the computer and rushed off to the train station that Hammett's The Glass Key isn't a detective novel. Oh my. You can blame that for the hurry. I really do know these things. (Oh well, my blogging hasn't been very good lately... Will have to concentrate and not just throw things here in random.)

Hammett? Where's Hammett?

Dave's comments made me realize that I was altogether too tired to come up with a reasonable list. Where's the goddamn Hammett? Man, I just love Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key! It's been years since I read them, so couldn't really decide what would fit in, but my fondest memories are of Red Harvest. The Maltese Falcon is really exemplary as a movie and it slurs the reading experience a bit.

As for Rex Stout who seems to be getting quite a lot of nominations: I haven't read anything by him for at least 15 or 16 years - and then I was an adolescent.

Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders nominated Cosi Fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin. I've liked several Didbins I've read, but would have hard time to come up with a title.

And I'm pretty sure I'm just forgetting something recent... Scott Phillips's second novel (on whose title I'm drawing blank right now) could be labeled as a detective novel, so it could fit in.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ten greatest detective novels

Critic David Montgomery has raised some buzz with his list of ten greatest detective novels. I'll join the chorus too, even though I should be sleeping by now (have to up early in the morning and have still some real work to do). Has to have a detective.. that might prove difficult.

Um, let's see... The first are easy:

Raymond Chandler: Farewell, My Lovely
Ross Macdonald: The Zebra-Striped Hearse

Then it gets more difficult:

James Ellroy: The Big Nowhere (if for nothing else, then for the wolverine)
Thomas B. Dewey: The Mean Streets
Michael Collins (aka Dennis Lynds): Act of Fear
Howard Browne: The Taste of Ashes
Floyd Mahannah: The Golden Widow
Ben Benson: The Broken Shield
Al Conroy: Devil In Dungarees

Okay, that's nine already. I'm making this up as I go. Ellroy is the newest one, huh? I thought Scott Phillips's The Ice Harvest is one of the greatest crime novels ever, but there's no detective in it. Dave Zeltserman's Fast Lane is great, but one of the top 10..? There are lots of great new detective novels out there, but I really don't know... Would a Western do? The protagonist in Merle Constiner's The Short-Trigger Man (Ace 1964) sure acts like a detective. And he wipes the floor with the heroes of the books I mentioned.

I may have another list tomorrow...

Estonian Beat

Just received this e-mail from Estonia:

We (NGO Rampade Org) are glad to report that Estonian 60`s beat music (often called as garage beat or mersey beat by the 60`s music lovers nowadays) compilation "Biit Piraadid" is finally out. It took half a year to collect material from the Estonian TV and Radio archives and to put together this extra rare compilation on CD format.

The idea of making this record came from Estonian beat music researcher Vello Salumets who had written amazing and complete book about Estonian rockmusic childhood. The book is called "Rockrapsoodia" ( and it describes Estonian beat music profoundly with fascinating excitement and also, sometimes with great sense of humour. Vello Salumets himself were singing, playing bass and keyboards in widely over the country known beatband called Optimistid. Optimistid were the first proper popband in Estonia, their song "Mul on tunne" (actually the cover version of Herman`s Hermits` "You Won`t Be Leaving") broke the hearts of the young generation all over the Estonia.

The record "Biit Piraadid" is actually the first compilation of unreleased (lot of songs were even undigitalized till putting those on the record) material by NGO Rampade Org. The second volume of "Biit Piraadid" have been planned to release on december and there will be 10 live songs from the first official rock festival in Estonia. The event took place in cinema "Kosmos" on the 28-th of april in 1968 and it has been defined as the first public guitar bands appearance ever in USSR. The songs on the current record, "Biit Piraadid" were actually mostly recorded in Estonian Radio or TV studios. The focus is more on melodic "mod-pop" songs that sound unique and original, the songs also sound a bit different from western brothers` and sisters` bands at the same time.

The bands on the record are Tallinn based Mikronid, Kristallid, Virmalised, Lüürikud, Optimistid, Toonika, Andromeeda, Omega, Toomapojad, Peoleo and Credo. The record also includes songs from Tartu`s Kogudus and Rapla`s Omega, that was different band from Tallinn`s Omega. You can also listen the soundclips in internet from the record:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Several updates

Haven't been blogging much lately, due to haste and hurry in work and personal life. I finally made it to the train last Tuesday and gave my first lecture on writing movie reviews. The students seemed nice and bright, as the Finnish youth usually is.

Umm... what should I write about? I'm trying to work at the same time as I'm writing this, so please patient with me, if I seem rambling...

Our YA novel came back, once again, this time with only a short rejection slip: "The text is warm and touching and it contains humour, but doesn't fit in with our publishing line." Okay, thanks.

I've been selling out my principles. I proposed a book on Biblical first names (there seems to be several in English-speaking markets) to a Christian publisher. Now, they do mostly general non-fiction books, but there's a strong Christian undercurrency in most of the books. I felt that I had to give up when I rewrote the sample text (it had been with another publisher for a short while). I had to use "B.C." when I had used "B.P.E." previously. Oh well, it's only a goddamn book.

The paperback line I've been mentioning here from time to time is again slightly closer to existence. The first books could be out next Fall. I'll keep you posted.

We kept a day off from work with Elina to visit Loimaa. I had noticed from a train window that the flea market I've been referring here to as one of the best in Finland is closing down. Elina phoned the place and found out that they are selling stuff out with one euro per bag! We bought nine plastic bags and an old baby carriage with us! The stuff we bought was mainly retro and vintage clothing - I got six or seven new jackets, one very nice suit from the early seventies and three great fur hats, with two from real fur... We are going back in a couple of weeks' time. The sale will be for the end of November.


This is mostly about politics. Hope you foreigners read about Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya's killing.

Anna Politkovskajan murha: ensinnäkin tuli huono omatunto siitä, että itse kirjoittelee tämmöistä liirumlaarumia ja toisaalla joku tapetaan sen vuoksi, että hän kirjoittaa minkä näkee ja kokee oikeaksi. Toiseksi alkoi ehkä ensimmäistä kertaa elämässä tuntua siltä, ettei ehkä kannattaisi mainostaa olleensa kommari ja että kokee nostalgiaa mennyttä Neuvostoliittoa kohtaan. En tietysti tiedä, millainen maailma olisi, jos bolsevikit eivät olisi tehneet vallankumousta vuonna 1917, mutta aivan selvää on, että Venäjän nykyinen alennustila on melko suoraan syytä neuvostohallinnon virheistä.

Toisaalta eräs ystäväni totesi, että Venäjällä vallitsee tällä hetkellä samanlainen rosvokapitalismi kuin esimerkiksi Villissä Lännessä 1800-luvulla. Nyt Yhdysvalloissa on vakaa demokratia (tästä voisi tosin moni olla eri mieltä), ja Venäjä seuraa perässä 50-100 vuoden perästä. Anna Politkovskaja tuskin ilahtuisi tästä analyysista. Mutta se voi silti olla oikea. (Ystäväni oli seurannut Virossa itsenäistymisen aiheuttamaa huumaa 90-luvun alkupuoliskolla. Hän oli tuntenut terästehtaan omistajan, joka oli rahan huumassaan myynyt kaikki tehtaan laitteet Ruotsiin, vaikka tehtaalle tuli koko ajan tilauksia ja työntekijöitä oli kymmenittäin.)


Rupesin kirjoittamaan tätä ennen kuin tulos (jippii!) varmistui, mutta menköön nyt kuitenkin:

Hedelmöityslaki: oi voi, mitä argumentteja vastapuolella on. Joku kansanedustaja (Kari Kärkkäinen?) oli todennut, että nykyinen liberaalivihreys on miesten alentamiseen tähtäävä hyökkäys (tai jotain sinnepäin). Miesten itsetunto on heikoilla, kun he tuntuvat ajattelevan, että vain laki estää naisia hylkäämästä miehiä kokonaan. Välillä tuntuu myös siltä, että jotkut ovat sitä mieltä, että naiset, joita uusi laki koskisi, lyöttäytyisivät yhtäkkiä miesten kanssa yhteen, kun laki kieltää heiltä lasten tekemisen - hyökkäys miehiä vastaan loppuisi kuin seinään!

Mietin kyllä myös Bertrand Russellia tänään. Hänhän sanoi joskus, että on epäloogista todeta, että lasten on oltava kiitollisia vanhemmilleen siitä, että hän on olemassa.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Various stuff from some blogs

Here's an ugly post in Finnish, with ugly hyperlinks.

The Rap Sheetistä:

Television Chronicle -nettisivun vaikeuksista ja linkkiä pariin kiinnostavaan artikkeliin:

Norjalainen yksityisetsivä (onko näitä suomennettu?):

Cleopatra Jones kuollut:

Stephen Kingin uusi kirja:

Peter Falkin haastattelua:

Damon Runyonin syntymän 122-vuotisjuhla:

Lee Goldbergiltä:

Burke's Law -sarjan tunnari:

The Zoo Gang -sarjan tunnari:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend at the cabin

We were at the cabin for the weekend, as I wrote in a comment on a comment (hey, hope everything has worked out on your end; I got negative here). The weather was nice for the most parts - at times it rained like a motherfucker (sorry, too tired to come up with anything subtle here). Kauto and Ottilia sure enjoyed themselves. And so did we. Elina said that she's relaxed more than for a long, long time. When you're deprived of a computer, you'll just have to sit down and listen. Maybe we should ban reading e-mails, blogging, putting up stuff on etc. after five o'clock or something like that...

I read three books during the weekend. Pretty obscure ones: a fake biography, a POD Finnish crime novel and a collection of concrete poetry.

Harri Kumpulainen (whom I've mentioned here couple times before) has written a nice fake biography of a man called Sulo Waldemar Rundgren. I'll switch languages here: Sulo Waldemar Rundgren eli Runkku löydettiin Kärsämäen kansakoulun pihasta vuonna 1939 ja hän katosi vuonna 1969. Sitä ennen hän ehti olla suutarina, keikkamuusikkona (kitaraa ja haitaria enimmäkseen), runoilijana (hämärä monikielinen runo Nuoren voiman liiton vuonna -69 ilmestyneessä vappurunokokoelmassa, joka on ihan oikea juttu; en vain ole ikinä nähnyt kopioina ilmestynyttä vihkoa missään, mukana on myös mm. Kosti Sironen ja Juhani Tikkanen), taidemaalarina (pitämättä jääneitä näyttelyitä, kadonneita, mutta kaupungin kokoelmiin myydyiksi tiedettyjä töitä jne.) ja pikkurikollisena. Erittäin hauska kirja, jota suosittelen lämpimästi. Kirjan ulkoasu vain on kovin amatöörimäinen. Kumpulainen on sujuva kirjoittaja, joka ansaitsisi tulla paremmin tunnetuksi. Kirja on käytännössä itsejulkaistu, mutta eipä se olisi minkään kustantamon pirtaan mahtunutkaan.

Antti Tuomainen is a young copy writer and his first novel, Tappaja, toivoakseni/Killer, I Hope, is a pretty impressive noir novel in a country where noir novels are not very popular (at least by young writers). It's a first novel by many accounts - first of all, it tries too hard to be deep when it doesn't have to be, and there's too much inner monologue when you don't need it, and the love story is a bit rushed and the dialogue between the two lovers is at times forced, but it's also quite touching and troublesome. Here's seriously hoping that Tuomainen has a chance to write more - and to get a more profitable business deal than the POD Myllylahti provides!

And finally Marko J. Niemi. Marko has done pretty amazing visual poetry at his own blog and he also edits the Nokturno site (where I've sent some some of my exercises in experimental poetry). His first collection came out from Ankkuri which also works as a POD house, through Lulu. Some of Marko's pieces are very inventive visually and I got a chuckle out of them. There are also some poems in the shape of pyramids which you can read any way you want to which I also liked. Check out his blog, especially the early posts - I just wonder why the delightful Tuoli/Chair series is not included in the book!

Uglish fashion

Here's a very nice fashion picture: a mom has made a great leather/jeans outfit for her son. And now she's selling it! You might want to give her some money not to send it out to anyone...

I'll be posting some other fashion pictures here as well: Kauto's modelling days have just begun.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Missä on Poen Valtameren salaisuus?!

(English summary: it's about the forth-coming collection of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories - in Finnish, that is. I'd thought the book would include also Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, but no.)

Sain tänään sähköpostissa pdf:n Edgar Allan Poen kaikki tarinat sisältävästä käännöskokoelmasta (Teos, suomentajana Jaana Kapari). Olin luullut, että kirja sisältäisi myös Poen ainoan romaanin, Valtameren salaisuuden (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, 1838; suom. myös nimellä Gordon Pymin kertomus), mutta ei. Poen romaani jäi tunnetusti torsoksi, mutta monet ovat pitäneet sitä osittain sen kiehtovuuden syynä.

Suomalaisia kirja ei ole juurikaan kiehtonut, koska oudosti se on käännetty viimeksi vuonna 1915! Aiempi käännös onkin jo kaksitoista vuotta vanhempi... En muista ikinä nähneeni kumpaakaan - jaa, Valtameren salaisuuden olen nähnyt niin että siitä puuttui kymmenen viisitoista viimeistä sivua. Pöyhösen keräilykirjojen hintaopas antaa sille hinta-arvioksi 300 mk eli noin 50 e. Hinnan luulisi nousseen vuodesta 1999, jolloin hintaopas ilmestyi.

Minulla on mielikuva, että Erik Bergman olisi säveltänyt romaanista kuoroteoksen suurehkolle orkesterille. Ainakin olen nähnyt tv-taltioinnin, jossa esitettiin suomalaisen nykysäveltäjän kuoroteos juuri Poen romaanin pohjalta. En löydä Googlella juuri mitään todisteita. Hoi, osaako joku auttaa? Musiikki oli tehokasta, hiipivää, pelottavaa. Niin kuin Edgar Allan Poe parhaimmillaan. (Minua ei kauheasti innosta, että nyt on saatavana Poen "hauskat" scifi-jutut, mutta kaipa niille joku kysyntä on.)

Oli miten oli, kirja ilmestyy Helsingin kirjamessuille 27.10. Kulttuuriteko jos mikä - mutta suurempi se olisi ollut, jos mukana olisi ollut tuo lyhyt romaani!

Vieressä - hmm, ilmeisesti - Poen romaanin alkuperäisen painoksen nimilehti. Onko se vaikuttanut Paavo Haavikon Viiniä, kirjoitusta -kokoelman kansikuvaan?

Almost forgot

I almost forgot to mention that I finished editing the YA novel I've written with Elina. Now only some polishing and then to the publishers - again. This must be the fifth time when it goes out. (Nothing compared to Loren Estleman's The Oklahoma Punk: it was rejected over 160 times.)

The title was changed: from Kokkisotatyttö/The Cook Wars Girl to Elämää tylsempi juttu/Worse Than Life.

James Sallis's Drive

Finished Drive by James Sallis last night. It was my first Sallis, but won't be the last, as I liked this quite a bit, even though there was some superficiality to it, especially in the end when one of the characters starts to speak about Borges and Cervantes. Okay, he's a screenwriter, but even that granted, it sounded a bit overimposed to me. I was also quite tired last night when I was reading the book and it came to as no surprise that I didn't understand everything. I'll read it again some of these days (or years).

But Sallis's style is great: very terse, very hardboiled, yet warm and affectionate at the same time. The plot could've been more original, as some people have complained, but I don't think so, since Sallis gives us only glimpses of the plot and switches back and forth in time quite freely (yet making almost all of it quite fluent). It's a case of style over story (not matter), and Sallis pulls it off with ease.

A negative Amazon reviewer says this:

"Something else also bothered me about this book. I felt like I had read this story before. I was right. There's a book called The Company She Keeps by Georgia Durante. It's a true life story published in 1998 of a woman who drove getaway cars for the Mob who later became a stunt driver. The Company She Keeps is also 456 pages of true life experiences including domestic abuse and celebrity fame. If you like reading about action, adventure and inspiration then The Company She Keeps by Georgia Durante is the book for you."

I know nothing about Durante's book, but I don't think it's forbidden to use true stories as a base for novels or other fiction.

(I read the Harcourt paperback reprint, the picture on top is the original edition from Poisoned Pen.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some work done after a bad start

I finished the first version of my sword-and-sorcery story I mentioned a while back. I sent it to my friend Jukkahoo to read and give first impressions, mainly on can I publish it in Adventure Stories that's coming out some time before Christmas (or slightly after that).

I'm listening to the Mutant Disco collection I found in the library. Snuky Tate's He's the Groove (from 1979) is a near-excellent piece - actually almost-perfect music with its driving riff and bass line. I also like immensely Ron Rogers's two pieces on the album, especially Naughty Boy the chorus of which just won't stop pounding in my head. (It's just that it seems that Rogers was later in T'Pau which I immensely hated in the late eighties.)

I'm a... er.. what am I?

Some sort of wuzzy nuthead or something to that effect. (I don't know exactly what 'wuzzy' means, but it sort of fits in.) I fucking missed the train just about an hour ago. I was going to Tampere to teach and fucking missed the train! I made it to the station just in time to see the train leave.

Well, here's what happened. I was at the movie archive last night (checking out Robert Bresson's Le diauble propablement or something like that; Devil, Perhaps just might be its English title) and read e-mails at 23.00 or something. I wrote a lengthy and slightly agitated message to a friend of mine who had something negative to say about my book on history of cinema that came out last year. I shouldn't've gotten so angry about it, because even though I read several pages of James Sallis's great Drive I couldn't get to sleep. And I knew it was to be only six hours of sleep. I just rolled around with my eyes closed and thought mainly about my coming teaching gig. For some reason I felt I hadn't done every possible thing for it.

At 03.13 Kauto woke up. I don't know what happened to him - maybe he saw a bad dream. But he just couldn't get back to sleep. We hushed and lulled him for goddamn two hours! I could've killed couple of neighbours for taking a friggin' shower at 04.30 in the friggin' morning - they, for one, kept Kauto awake. At 05.28 or something like that he finally fell asleep.

I knew I couldn't make it if I woke up at 07.00 as I'd promised myself, with only 1,5 hours of decent sleep. I switched the alarm clock to 08.30 thinking I could make it to the later train and still be on time to start the course (which is, by the way, about writing movie reviews*). It was still very hard to get up at 08.30 and I was seriously thinking I'd call in sick. But then I pulled myself together and got up and went to eat. So did Kauto and Elina.

As usual, it took too long for us to get Kauto in shape to take to the zoo.. oops, I mean daycare, and when I finally made it to shower, I noticed that I had something like 14 minutes before the train leaves. (We live just next to the station.) I showered and shaved like a maniac and could've made it - if I hadn't fucking brushed my teeth! I had already my clothes on, had packed the bags, etc., and then out of the blue comes this bright idea to brush my teeth! Well, okay, I did it in a second, but it made me to miss the green lights and I had to wait for the morning traffic to get by. As I said earlier, I made it to platform just in time to see the train some 50 meters away.

When I got back, I checked the busses. Not a help. I tried to phone all the people at the university, but couldn't reach anybody. The usual e-mail address didn't work (of course it didn't!) and I had to use my Hotmail account. When I finally reached someone, they had heard about my misdemeanor and it was decided that the show.. er, I mean, the lecture was cancelled for today and I'd start the whole thing next week.

But now, how the hell am I gonna get something done today? I'm agitated, irritated, tired, bored and in an adrenaline hangover. And hungry, too. (I've been on a friggin' Atkins diet for some days. It bores my eyes out, but I'm destined to lose some kilos of my daddy tummy. They all got in within the last year. Next I'm gonna eat some eggs.)

* Isn't it said that if you can't do art, you become a critic, and if you can't become a critic, you'll have to teach it? It's been at least seven years when I've written an actual movie review. Let's not count the scribbles in this here blog. They are not me at my best. And definitely this day is not me at my best.

Edit: Having been mostly on my back all day, I decided it was "a fuckin' loser" that I was after. But hey, Sallis's Drive is great. Let me get back on that one later.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Huonot runot ovat maailman selitys,
antakaa minulle kuppi käteen, niin kerron kaiken ja jätän kertomatta oleellisen,
valehtelut on jo aikoja sitten hoidettu niin että jäljelle jäi vain hengitys, sikarin tuhka,
savu, minä olen nähnyt tämän ennenkin luikertelevan runoihini,
minulla on ollut aiemminkin nämä samat näyt,
tuhkat, munat, tuhkamunat, siittämättömyys, maailmamme selitys,

antakaa meille vauvoja, antakaa meille mitä tahansa,
mitä tahansa ettei meidän tarvitse enää kulkea kumarassa maailman alla,
siltojen alla, pienet ihmiset, voi raukkoja,
suuret ihmiset, voittajan näköiset, luuserit,

kankaita kuljettavat hävittäjät, laivat, upseerit, herkät merimiehet, tatuoinnit perseissään,
peräreiässä, huumeiden salakuljettajat, muovipusseja sisään tunkiessaan ihminen eniten rakastaa itseään,

kuinka tämän vielä saisi järjestykseen,
sataa tai ei sada, ei se ole ihan se ja sama, maailma voi peittyä veteen:
lumeen, härmään, räkään, pyhään ulostukseen,
suusta tulevaan loistavaan puhuntaan,
akti menee päästä sisään, toisesta ulos, tulee jos on tullakseen,

laivat on nimetty näin ja näin,
tuosta tuonne ja takaisin, minulle on aina riittänyt se että olen saanut todeta riittämättömyyteni,
minulla on ollut ennenkin nämä samat ongelmat,
nämä samat puut, samat vadelmat, odelmat, aaluvat,
nimet, etunimet, sukunimet, harvinaiset, tavalliset, vaatimattomat, keskinkertaiset:
minä minun minuuteni ja minän minuudet.


Sataa, olen märkä, kuin olisin altaaseen hypännyt,
vaate kiiltää, minä kiillän sisältä,
olen matkannut maailman rajoille, ammattimaisesti,
olen professio, minusta revitään tietueita,
kaiken maailman tiedekunnat ja tietokannat (lienevät samaa kantaa, mistä minä tiedän,
etymologia on minulle vain harrastus: maailman selvittäminen on samaa kuin kantaisi tuskaa harteillaan,
ystäviensä, koko maailman, tuntemattomien ihmisten, joiden nimiä ei tiedä)
ovat vielä viimeiset palat pistelleet,
kakkulapio jäi pöydälle,
kilahti rajusti metallista alustaa vasten,
kirskunta, raavinta, oletusarvoja vastaan tehty oksennuksen kaltainen toimenpide,
kuka avasi oven, oli myös seinää vasten,
pukumiehet ovat lakanneet todistelemasta itselleen minkäänlaisia arvoja.

Oops! I did it again

I forgot to mention in my earlier post that I also had some nice chats (and a good pizza!) with my friend, bookseller extraordinaire, Pasi Louhimies from Libris, Tampere. We also had a visitor during the weekend, a very nice young lady from Helsinki, blogger extraordinaire. Her presence, however, had nothing to do with the book fair, even though - I think I can reveal this without much harm - she works in the publishing industry.

On another note: I'm so ashamed since my credit card at Stockmann was cancelled! I hadn't paid the bills (it was only slightly over 200 euros, but nevertheless) and now I have to cut my credit card in half and post it to them. How embarrassing, how humiliating...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

At the Turku Book Fair

1. First, the very unprofessionally produced exhibition of the West Coast pulp fiction writers. I took most of the stuff to the place by bike and I took them away by bike - in the goddamnest rain I've seen this whole year! I was soaking when I'd ridden some 200 meters. I'd packed the books quite well and none got damaged - at least not thoroughly, that is. The exhibition was nice, but not a success. Ah well, we didn't pay anything for the site. I'd brought a nice sixties type writer to the exhibition and hacked away a page of a hardboiled crime story, with the hero being first doublecrossed by a gun-wielding dame and then being attacked by a horde of Chinese killers! My friend, Sami Myllymäki, continued the story at the site, but then the machine broke down!

2. Then the bars. I was drinking on Thursday with my journalist and book-making friend Ville Hänninen and a local SF fandom hero, Pasi Karppanen. We had nice time talking nonsense up to 02.00. I was again drinking last night, Saturday, that is, and had equally nice time: met some old friends I hadn't seen for a long, long time, may have made myself a deal on a book, got some nice ladies irritated by talking absolute nonsense, saw some celeb writers, such as Virpi Hämeen-Anttila and Anna-Leena Härkönen (who was just leaving with his boyfriend, Riku Korhonen, as I entered the bar; too bad since I would've liked to chat with Riku for a while), listened to boring stuff a certain Turku-based intellectual free-lance journalist was babbling, made a promise to give my VHS tape of the film version of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar to a friend of mine, etc. etc. The usual bar stuff.

3. The actual book fair. I was only at one panel and a marginal one at that, about the current state of Finnish pulp fiction writing. We had Pirkko Arhippa, a very nice lady who's been writing crime and romance since 1968, and Boris Hurtta, the leading Finnish pulpster now working (albeit doing most of his stuff on fanzines and self-publications), with us (Harri Kumpulainen, who some of you know under his Harri Erkki alias, was the chairman) and we talked a bit over 30 minutes. I met most of my author and publishing colleagues at the bar, not at the fair, with my friend Tapani Bagge being the most notable exception. Thanks for the books!

4. I bought some paperbacks from a Turku seller, with some vintage American paperbacks in the bunch. I may talk about these later on.

5. We had a short business discussion on the crime paperback line I'm going to edit. It seems now that it will hit the newstands some time next year! Yee-haa!

6. Now I'm going to shut this machine down and start reading James Sallis's Drive and I hope y'all do the same!

PS. On the left there's a vintage Turku paperback from 1947: Riku Rauta's aka Aake Jermo's Luodinreikä röntgenkuvassa/A Bullet Hole in an X-Ray. Jermo was working in a Turku newspaper at the time and later on he became a rather well-known journalist.