Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Books on my nightstand

Michel Ekman: Utanför tiden: Självbiografiska essäer [Outside Time: Autobiographical Essays]. Helsinki: Schildts Förlag, 2012. Themes include Eric Rohmer - the poets Peter Sandelin, Gunnar Björling and Tomas Tranströmer - the neighbourhood of Brunnsparken / Kaivopuisto in Rabbe Enckell and Gunnar Björling's poetry - criticism and the downfall of serious culture discourse in Nordic print media around 1985 (as examined, among others, by Tomas Forser in his book Kritik av kritiken, 2002) - and three novels (Hermann Hesse: Steppenwolf; Max Frisch: Stiller; Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace).  The essays are stages in a journey of self-discovery through artworks. The opening essay was inspired by our Eric Rohmer memorial tribute in 2010 at Cinema Orion. Ekman's approach to Rohmer is based on the central concept of grace. As the best book introduction to Rohmer Ekman cites Retrospektive Eric Rohmer (Vienna: Viennale, 2010), especially Jean Douchet's article "Die Haltung von Eric Rohmer". In a remarkable chapter based on his long experience as a critic in leading Finnish and Swedish newspapers (Hufvudstadsbladet, Svenska Dagbladet) Ekman estimates that he belongs to the last generation of free humanistic intelligentsia.

Jarl Hellemann: Tapaamisia [Encounters] (Tšabua Ameridžibi, John Irving, Yashar Kemal, Ivar Lo-Johansson, Amos Oz). Helsinki: Tammi, 1983. The publisher's encounters with five great authors, in Georgia, the United States, Turkey, Sweden, and Israel. In each, a deep and personal connection is established.

Jarl Hellemann: Lukemisen alkeet ja muita kirjoituksia kustantajan elämästä [Rudiments of Reading and Other Writings from a Publisher's Life]. Helsinki: Otava, 1996. Memoirs in the form of an essay collection in two parts: "The Age of Innocence", and "Life with the Book": early childhood in the Denmark of the 1920s, growing up in Helsinki in the 1930s, young manhood during WWII, finding his calling as a publisher as the war ended, editing the Keltainen kirjasto quality series, Alex Matson as a reader, Matti Kurjensaari as an author of profiles of famous people, meeting Kurt Vonnegut, Joan Williams, and the poet Eeva-Liisa Manner. A book about a love affair with literature.

Jarl Hellemann: Kirjalliset liikemiehet: kustantajakuvia [Literary Businessmen: Portraits of Publishers]. Helsinki: Otava, 2002. Stories of major Finnish publishing houses: Alvar Renqvist (Otava), Yrjö A. Jäntti (WSOY), Martti Haavio (WSOY), Holger Schildt (Schildts), Untamo Utrio (Tammi), Esko Aaltonen (Gummerus), and Mauno Salojärvi (Gummerus). Plus three international stories: Thomas Mann and the S. Fischer Verlag; Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf and The Hogarth Press; and Maxwell Perkins, the editor of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Wolfe. Engrossing portraits of Hellemann's kindred spirits.

Erkki Vettenniemi: Toinen hallitus: Aleksandr Solženitsyn, venäläinen kirjailija [A Second Government: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Russian Author]. Helsinki: Taifuuni, 1994. An excellent, sober, balanced and readable biography of the writer with the great mission.

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