Saturday, December 30, 2006

My headlines

The headline for the previous post was supposed to run thus: "Don't tell anyone, but I did some work!"

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Don't tell anyone

I wasn't supposed to do any work during the holidays. As you've read here, I've been slightly depressed and also may have had the first anxiety attack of my life. So, I decided to take it easy.

And I did. I watched the whole Tolkien film, ate lots of Xmas food and chocolate (and gained two kilograms), read some books (Fury by G.M. Ford is a good read, let me tell you that, even though it's a tad overlong with too many point-of-view characters) and saw the last episode of Six Feet Under (may have to blog about that later on).

But then, all of a sudden I wrote a short story. It took just twenty minutes before Six Feet Under last Tuesday and some ten to fifteen minutes during the commercials. It's an experimental fantasy story, with something of horror in it, told entirely as witness testimonies (even though the story spans, or at least seems to span, several years or even decades). It's very short, with only 1700 words, but I hope there's enough to tickle a fancy. I'm sending if off to a short story contest with the deadline next Sunday. Wish me luck! (It's appropriate that I now read through the story and also happen to read an interview with G.M. Ford in which he says that all writers have to do is conquer self-doubt.)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy holidays to everyone!

(A stupid title, if there ever was one. I don't seem to be very good to come up with inventive titles. There was a title in a music magazine, maybe New Musical Express, in the late eighties: "Yule love it!" I could use that one.)

Merry Xmas to all! (Even to those with shitmass coming!)

I've been alone at home for two days, as Elina and Kauto are with her parents. I'll pick Ottilia up later today and we'll catch with them on Saturday. While alone, I've been shopping for Christmas and watching the extended DVD versions of The Lord of the Rings. I watched the last two episodes yesterday. I'd like to comment on the movies, but I have some other business to do. Maybe after the holidays. Which, I hope, are happy to everyone! Don't beat anyone and don't eat too much! (My menu for these two days has been pizza and Chinese take-away, so I'm not full of Xmas food already!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Marcel Duhamel on Série Noire

Definition of noir literature or noir fiction is a bit elusive. Here's something to start with: it's a preface to a thing called Série Noire, a series of crime novels published in France, starting from 1946, and including mainly American and British hardboiled crime novels. Duhamel was closely linked with the Surrealists, so it's appropriate that he praises the subversive elements he finds in the books he selected for the series.

Let unwary readers be warned: books in the Série Noire cannot safely be placed in just any hands. Those who like Sherlock Holmes-type puzzles won't find what they're looking for. Neither will systematic optimists. The immorality generally accepted in this type of work solely to serve as a foil for conventional morality is just as much at home in our books as fine feelings, even just plain amorality. The spirit of such books is rarely conformist. In them there are police more corrupt than the criminals they're chasing. The nice detective doesn't always solve the mystery. Sometimes in our books there is no mystery. And sometimes there isn't even a detective. And so? So what remains is action, torment and violence, in all its forms, especially the most shameful - from beatings to massacres. As in good films, moods are expressed through actions, and readers who are fond of instrospective literature will have to do the reverse gymnastics. There is also love — preferably bestial — disorderly passion, pitiless hate. In short, our goal is quite simple: to keep you from sleeping.

Marcel Duhamel, founder of the Série Noire, 1948
translated by Karin Montin, 2006 (originally posted at
the Rara-Avis e-mail group; reprinted with the translator's permission)

From the files of Duane Swierczynski

I haven't as yet read Duane Swierczynski's second (ehem, third) crime novel The Blonde, but I really loved The Wheelman and hopefully will see it published in Finland at some point.

Here's the prologue from the book Swierczynski posted on his blog. It's thrilling as hell, but he was convinced that the book doesn't need it. So he cut it.

I have pretty much the same feeling about prologues: they are not necessary. Swierczynski quoted Laura Lippman saying "cut it out", but I could've said that to Laura Lippman herself when I read her, otherwise brilliant, The Sugar House: there's a prologue and I didn't find it necessary.

Fuckin' fuck

My blogger friend Tosikko said in a post a while back that she doesn't like cursing and foul words. What do you think she would say about this, the latest masterpiece by Allan Guthrie?

Monday, December 18, 2006

See for yourself

I've recently written an article about the amateur writers of erotic stories. It's finished now and will soon be published in Aamulehti's Valo weekly supplement, but the debate goes on. I tried to get some interviewees from a website featuring erotic stories and all I got was a bunch of whining bitches trying to get back at me. Check for yourself (sorry, it's in Finnish only, which makes me wonder why I wrote this in English in the first place).

Some stuff before Christmas

A depression is still lurking and I've given up doing any work for the rest of the year. I'll be reading books on a sofa for couple of weeks and then we'll see what comes.

I just finished Robert Ferrigno's first novel, The Horse Latitudes (1990). It's a good, comic, erotic, fast-moving noir thriller, with just a little too much of the late eighties' yuppie feel to it. And I could've preferred a bit tighter plot. Will have to pick up his much-fuzzed book, Praeyrs For The Assassin, about the Islamic United States of America, in the near future. This seems to have been reprinted as a paperback and is quite easily obtainable, otherwise I would've told the boys at Hard Case Crime to reprint it.

Now, off to read Brian Garfield...

I was walking home this morning after having taken Kauto to daycare and couldn't help noticing a poster for a gig by some death metal bands. The tagline: "Shitmass is coming..."


Raimo Väyrysen sosialidemokraattisuudesta on päkisty paljon ja on vaadittu, että Tuomiojan Tieto-Finlandia pitää harkita uudestaan. Panu Rajalakin kuulemma äityi ehdottamaan, että tällaisista palkintoraadeista pitää poliitikot ottaa pois. Väyrynen ei kait ole poliitikko, ja minusta on vähintäänkin outo ajatus, että ihmisellä ei saisi olla puoluepoliittisia mielipiteitä. Lisäksi Tuomiojan kirja ei ole mikään yksittäinen pyrskäytys, vaan johdonmukaisen kirjallisen tuotannon yksi osa.

Mietimme tosin Elinan kanssa, suhtautuisimmeko yhtä tyynesti asiaan, jos kirjan olisi tehnyt joku selkeästi kokoomuslainen politiikko ja palkinnon olisi valinnut joku kokoomukseen kytköksissä oleva tyyppi. Sanoin: "Kokkareilla ei ole yhtään vastaavaa tyyppiä kuin Tuomioja, joka edes voisi tehdä yhtä kiinnostavia ja uskottavia kirjoja." (Never mind this: it's about politics in Finland.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mikko Koukin tekstimainontaa

Luin marraskuun Annan loppuun äsken työtauolla ja kirjoitin äkämystyneenä tällaisen palautteen lehden päätoimittajalle:

Olin järkyttynyt huomatessani Mikko Koukin mainostavan omaa elokuvaansa kolumnissaan marraskuun Annassa. Kolumni alkoi kohtuullisen kiinnostavasti hauskasta aiheesta, mutta muuttui tekstimainonnaksi puolivälissä, kun Kouki alkoi kirjoittaa Aku Louhimiehen elokuvasta Valkoinen kaupunki - sehän on Koukin käsikirjoittama, mutta tätä Kouki ei syystä tai toisesta maininnut tekstissään ollenkaan.

Minusta kolumniin piilotettu tekstimainonta sotii journalistin eettisiä ohjeita vastaan ja on outoa Annalta, että teksti on tässä muodossaan solahtanut toimituksellisen verkon lävitse, varsinkin kun lehden ilmestyminen osui juuri Valkoisen kaupungin ensi-illan tienoille.

I must be in my maniac mood

Depressed today, maniac tomorrow... as you can see, I'm not all depressed anymore. But I'll stop posting after this. It's a meme - sorry, in Finnish only. I got if from here. Hi there!

Käytän meemissä kannettavalle ladattua nigerialaisen 70-luvun funkin ja rockin kokoelmaa.

1. Sukupuolesi? Upside Down
2. Mikä on suurin unelmasi? No Discrimination
3. Mitä inhoat? Jeun Ko Ku (Chop'n Quench)
4. Millainen fiilis sinulla nyt on? La La La
5. Miten elämäsi sujuu ylipäätään? Allah Wakbarr
6. Mistä asioista pidät? Orere Elejigbo
7. Mitä haluaisit sanoa ihastuksellesi/tyttö-/poikaystävällesi? Tire Loma da Nigbehin
8. Missä haluaisit olla? Akayan Ekassa
9. Kuvaile elämää? Kita Kita
10. Kuvaile itseäsi? Ja Fun Mi
11. Mitä sinä haluaisit juuri nyt? Ifa

Okay, something more Pulpetti-like stuff

Earl Kemp has made an eZine out of his 1960 questionnaire, Who Killed Science Fiction. You can read it here. It makes fascinating reading, as the magazine science fiction has almost been killed during the last fourty years - reading Kemp's editorial makes you wonder what took so long. It's also intriguing to see so many signatures - Sturgeon, Asimov, Robert Bloch, Alfred Bester... Frank Kelly Freas has a pretty weird signature, don't you think.

(Thanks to Bill Crider for the link!)


Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe is getting back, now on tube. Rap Sheet's J. Kingston Pierce isn't exactly happy.


Christa Faust's interview on Tribe's blog: interesting reading. A writer who gets called "pulp writer/bondage artist/rockabilly (etc.) priestess" really can't be all that bad. And she's getting her novel out from Hard Case Crime - it's called Money Shot and it's about a porn actress getting a revenge on his former employers (so I understood it). And she's already written a crime novel about Mexican wrestling!

And yet another one

Here's one, with a different location. Courtesy Robert Seger.

Another one

Here's another one from the Daddy Blog sessions.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Kauto and me: how's about this?

This is a publicity photo that was never used, much to my chagrin, for the Daddy Blog I keep with a friend of mine, Ville Hänninen, the comics connoisseur extraordinaire and fellow writer and editor. The photo was taken by Robert Seger, who's one of the best magazine photographers working in South-West Finland.

PS. The Finnish-speaking commentator in the previous post meant something like this: "And de wimmin sgream!" (She was referring to an old beer commercial.)

I'm the sexiest guy in the whole of Finland?!

Bill Crider (in an old post) posted about our prime minister, Matti Vanhanen, whom the French president dubbed the sexiest man in Finland (Vanhanen was also voted to the same position by the readers of a Finnish tabloid). Bill thinks I should've been the one nominated.

Well, I don't know. You can judge for yourself. These are photos from a session in which I modelled for my photographer friends, Susanna and Tero. The photos were never used with the article they were intended for, but I look good in some of them. Better than Matti Vanhanen, at least, eh? (I'll be posting some other modelling photos of me later on, so stay tuned! You're so lucky to have this!)

Depression hitting me hard?

I said to Elina yesterday: "Doing work sucks."

I've felt this way for several days now. I don't know what started it - maybe it's the on-going rain and the goddamn pre-Christmas darkness (for the foreigners reading this: there's absolutely no snow around here and it's fucking 8 degrees Celsius all the time and it's pouring water like Noah's waiting around the corner with his fucking animal ship) -, but I do know that I want it to end. I don't feel like doing anything - well, maybe I'd like to read.

Even watching television last night - Sopranos and Six Feet Under - felt like a burden. Well, okay, I was drawn to them when they started and especially Six Feet Under, with Nate's burial, was very, very touching. I was thinking I'd post about the series saying something like "it makes us want to get hurt so that we could feel ourselves heroic under the tragic circumstances", but I don't feel like doing it.

Well, I managed to do something: I finished another draft of my crime novel The Dostoyevsky Reel and will be sending it to a small press publisher that showed interest in it, when I sent them a short synopsis. We'll see what happens. I'm also sending my other crime novel to another, newly formed small press house - you remember that one, about the right-wing private eye working in the present-day Finland?

As I mentioned in passing, I was reading Laura Lippman's The Sugar House. I finished it the day before. It was very good, but I had some trouble in the climax when the baddy turned out to be a Democrat, Jewish and homosexual at the same time. I'll maybe go reading on a sofa after I've sent the manuscript to the publisher - maybe some Robert Ferrigno. I have his first, The Horse Latitudes, on my TBR pile.

Check out the new issue of the on-line crime fiction mag, Spinetingler. There's an interview of Duane Swierczynski, amongst all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

James Reasoner in movies

My friend, American writer James Reasoner, has had his story filmed. It's the first for him - and I believe also for the director. Check out the results here. (James's comments on the story (he hasn't been able to see the film as yet) are here.) I thought the film is pretty good, a quite effective short story, told with only a voice-over narration and with a footage that looks like surveillance camera's point-of-view.

James mentions that the story has been reprinted once or twice. Here are the facts:

Graveyard Shift, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, November 1978, reprinted in Hard-Boiled, ed. Bill Pronzini & Jack Adrian, Oxford University Press 1995, and Love Kills, ed. Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg, Carroll & Graf 1997.

A new killer track from Kompleksi

Just received this e-mail from my friend pHinn:

'Slick Little Girl', a new Kompleksi track

Can be found for a limited time from:

In collaboration with Sonic Temple Assassins (a.k.a. Jani Hellén of Forssa,Finland)

She's a slick little girl
she's a slick little girl...
Bambi eyes and baby-pink lips
and her Pilates hips
a little lip gloss won't hurt it
because you're worth it

She's a slick little girl
she's a slick little girl...

Her skin is made of Revlon,
Max Factor and teflon
Keeps her life in neat little boxes
girls like her are sly like foxes

She's a slick little girl
she's a slick little girl...

She's a shopping mall queen
won't ever vent her spleen
Never takes a digression
being bad for her complexion

She's a slick little girl
she's a slick little girl...
She's a slick little girl
she's a slick little girl...

Waiting for her Mr. Right
she's prowling for him all night
Not just a small boss, no
she read a tip from Cosmo
Got to be rich and famous,
isn't that contagious?
Got a grin like Cheshire cat
wants a chauffeur and pillbox hat

She's a slick little girl
she's a slick little girl...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Poe's best story

As I wrote here earlier (in a couple of posts, one of which was in Finnish) I was reading the collected stories of Edgar Allan Poe. I didn't like his humorous stories in the least (with the exception of "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" which seemed to balance the jokes and the horror quite well), but I'm glad I was able to finish the book. (Um, well, I skipped some stories for being just too damn awful. Another reviewer of the collection wrote in Helsingin Sanomat that the funny stories were delightful... I just cannot comprehend that statement.)

But nevertheless, I made up a small contest on the Fictionmags e-mail list I belong to and simply asked the people on the list to name Poe's best stories. Here are the results. The stories that got only one vote:

The Gold-Bug
Purloined Letter
The Black Cat
Loss of Breath
Ms. Found in a Bottle
William Wilson
The Tell-Tale Heart
King Pest

Two-vote stories:
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
A Cask of Amontillado

Three-vote stories:

The Masque of the Red Death
The Fall of the House of Usher

There were no four-vote stories.

And the winner, with five votes from the members of the Fictionmags list, is Hop-Frog! You can see an old illustration for the story on the left. I don't know the original source. (I'll be posting some other old Poe illos when I'll have the time.)

My favourites would've been "William Wilson" and "Ms. Found in a Bottle", which is quite intriguing and almost absurd.

What are your favourites?

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's with me?

Sorry, I haven't been blogging lately. There's no apparent reason for this, unless maybe it's that I've been busy and a bit stressed too. I'll start blogging again when it doesn't feel a complete waste of time.

In the meantime: I'm reading Laura Lippman's The Sugar House and enjoying it so far - but I'd skip the personal events in the hero's life if I were the author. But I'm not. This lady hasn't been translated in Finnish so far - should someone change this fact?

As you're aware, I'm also a small press publisher. A new issue of Pulp just came out, with articles on the porn novels of Stephen Frances, the Hank Janson creator, and porn stories of the Finnish film director Aarne Tarkas (yes, he did write some, in the last years of his life), reviews of Mike Ashley's wonderful Transformations and Feral House's delightful Sin-A-Rama and lots of other stuff.

The new issue of Isku is coming out - it's already the fifth and I'm not broke! There are stories by JA Konrath and Duane Swierczynski, with stuff by Finnish authors. I'm especially proud of the ultra-hardboiled story from 1940 by Reino Helismaa, the singer-songwriter who abandoned crime writing after the war, much to my chagrin.

There's also Seikkailukertomuksia/Adventure Stories that's meant to be like a good old all-genre pulp, with stories ranging from highwaymen to the Egypt of pharaohs, from the exotic India to the 19th century Finland. Check out the cover by Jukka Murtosaari. The mag's not out yet and may not be until next January, but it's going to be good!

Okay, that settles it for now. We are leaving to visit my mom tomorrow morning, back on regular schedule on Monday. And I'll promise to get back to blogging!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why I'm reading books I don't like

You may remember that I was reading books that I don't normally care for, such as a James Bond adventure by John Gardner. I mentioned that the reason for this is a professional one. Well, I'm compiling and editing a reference book on thriller writers. I'll be writing entries for MacLean and Gardner, among others. It also seems that I have to write ones for Sidney Sheldon and Ridley Pearson, too. What one does for a living...

This merits mention because the postman brought today a letter announcing a 3,000 euro grand for the book! Yikes! I didn't actually believe for a second that I'd get this, since my experience has been that edited books don't get grants. But I'm not complaining.

(Foreigners reading this, especially Americans, must be pretty confused as to why I get grants: they are the most important source of income for Finnish writers, from poets to non-fiction writers. In Finland, there's no opportunity to live solely on book sales. Maybe for five writers, tops.)