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.)


Peter Rozovsky said...

Hello. This is off-topic, but it's the only way I can find to write to you. I've been looking for information on Pentti Kirstila ever since I read his excellent story "Brown Eyes and Green Hair" in the Oxford Book of Detective Stories. As of about two years ago, that story was the only Kirstila that had been translated into English. If the rest of his work is as good, I want to read more -- but I know no Finnish.

What can you tell me about Kirstila?




Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder is More Fun Away From Home"

Juri said...

What's off-topic on this blog? Maybe sports...

Sorry, I'm not an expert on Kirstilä, even though Google throws up my blog on Kirstilä... There's a good site, but it's in Finnish:


Let's try and translate relevant bits:

born in 1948, journalist 1960's to 1980's, now a free-lance author, first book, Farewell to a Darling, came out 1977, the series hero is police lieutenant Hanhivaara (= Ganderhill), has some other series characterts, but Hanhivaara remains the most relevant, has written over 22 books (if I counted right), with some non-fiction thrown in. Thinks highly of Chandler, Hammett and Ross Macdonald, has also written an article about Dennis Lehane.

Do you think this is enough? I can do more, but then you could e-mail me off-blog: juri.nummelin(a)pp.inet.fi

Peter Rozovsky said...

Let's talk about sports: Antero Nittymaki and Joni Pitkanen both play for the local hockey team here in Philadelphia.

Thanks for that information on Pentti Kirstila (my keyboard is not set up to produce diacritical marks). The story I read features Hanhivaara and is written in a deadpan humorous style that I found quite attractive. This was interesting and enjoyable in itself and also an exception to the reputation that crime writers from the Nordic countries have of producing somber stories.

I'd be interested in knowing if that story is typical of his style. And thanks for your offer of more information. I'll write to you if have any specific questions.

Juri said...

Ahh... sports.

This is something you should ask someone who knows his Kirstilä better than me. It's been said, though, that Kirstilä uses just this kind of deadpan humour, especially in his dialogue.

Hmm.. maybe I should start reading more Finnish stuff, if people come here more to ask questions... I'm taking Antti Tuomainen's Tappaja, toivoakseni/Killer, I Hope with me to the cabin we're leaving just tomorrow morning.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Enjoy your time at the cabin. If you start reading Finnish stuff, you could be a valuable resource for many readers outside Finland, few of whom speak or read Finnish. From what I understand, Finland has a thriving crime-fiction scene, but much of the work is inaccessible to us.

The most desirable outcome would be to get some of this material translated into other languages. I know some of Kirstila's work has been translated into German, but I'm not sure any is available in any other major language.

jukkahoo said...

I'm astounded that you could remind Juri of Joni Pitkänen's and Antero Niittymäki's team of Flyers, but totally forget that Sami Kapanen is also a member of the said team. :)

WIll read the s&s story, or should I say, when I'm healthier and can find the time... Flcdjz soikoon>!

Peter Rozovsky said...

You're right. That is a surprising error. I did not forget that Janne Niinimaa used to play for the Flyers, though.

I suppose this could mean the Flyers are popular in Finland -- unless hockey fans are unhapppy that the players left home.

As for me, I am originally from Montreal, where Saku Koivu has been a favorite for years.

Juri said...

Yes, it's a bit embarrassing for to me admit that I don't really know much about Finnish crime fiction scene. There's lots of stuff that doesn't appeal to me, though, somber and slow-moving police procedurals and amateur detectives cracking cases and making gorgeous meals in the meantime (or actually vice versa).

Only recently there's been some more hardboiled and more noirish stuff that's more in my interests, writers such as Tapani Bagge and Antti Tuomainen (who's got only one book out). There have also been some new books that come totally out of the cf scene, such Marja-Liisa Heino's story of a lying youngish criminal (sorry, I forget the title).

But you may have caused something. I got into thinking that there should be a collection of Finnish crime writing translated into English and I just might be able to get it done (perhaps with another editor working with me). There was an anthology of Finnish fantasy and sf only some time ago (from Daedalus) and it received a very hearty welcome. Do you think there really could be interest in such a book in the English-speaking world? There's been lots of translations in German, but English is still hard to crack. And if there is, should it concentrate solely on new stuff or could it be assembled from older and newer writers, starting, say, from Rikhard Hornanlinna from the 1920's and ending up with some noir stuff by Tapani Bagge from the 2000's? And who could be the publisher?

Jukkahoo, take your time with the s&s story. Get well soon!

Juri said...

I should also mention Sakari Vainikka's two novels, that came out of - I'm sorry to say - a vanity press which got a huge praise in the Ruumiin kulttuuri/Body Culture magazine. There was also a recent first novel by a young lady, Essi Something. It was about murder.

Let's not forget the recently deceased Arto Salminen whose books were really noir without any thriller elements. Crime, surely.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Ha! You give a good summary of lots of crime fiction. Many professional detectives make gorgeous meals, too, and even some killers can cook. I thought this only happened in novels by Italian, Spanish and Cuban writers, though. In French novels, the detective's wife cooks, or the detective eats at a restaurant.

I don't know who would publish English translations of Finnish crime fiction. Bitter Lemon Press (http://www.bitterlemonpress.com/) and Serpent's Tail have published excellent English translations of international crime fiction. I wrote to the head of Bitter Lemon to suggest Kirstila, and he said the possibility sounded interesting.

I have noticed that many of Bitter Lemon's books are published with support from governments and cultural foundations. Perhaps that would be a good place to start.

Most English-language readers will be unfamiliar with Finnish crime fiction, so I think a collection would have to give a range of different kinds of stories: noir, procedural, old, new, and Kirstila! Many readers will be familiar with the Swedish fiction of Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo and Henning Mankell. A Finnish collection could give some examples of similar stories, perhaps by Matti Joensuu. But it could also offer readers something different, something off-beat or unusual. Those are the reasons I liked "Brown Eyes and Green Hair" so much.

I hope to discuss this subject further. I don't know what I'm doing, but that makes the possibilities even more exciting.