Sunday, November 20, 2011

Books on my nightstand this week

1. Pekka Suhonen (1938-2011) died a week ago, and I have kept reading his work, essay collections such as Kun Roomasta tuli ikuinen [When Rome Became Eternal] (1995), Rooli ja kohtalo [Role and Destiny] (1996, a third of it dedicated to Marlene Dietrich), Yöllä he menivät uimaan [At Night They Went Swimming] (1998), my favourite of them being Delfiini ja muita esseitä [The Dolphin and Other Essays] (1973, with interesting essays on 1960s architecture and the Alvar Aalto legacy). Suhonen's writing on design and architecture is his most solid and substantial, books such as Tapio Wirkkala (1981, the key article written by Suhonen), Artek (1986, on Alvar Aalto and his colleagues), and Ei vain muodon vuoksi: Suomen Taideteollisuusyhdistys 125 [Not for Form's Sake Only: Design Forum Finland 125 Years] (2000).
2. Jake Nyman: Tähtisumua: unohtumattomia sävelmiä menneestä ajasta [Stardust: Unforgettable Tunes from Lost Time] (2011). Jake Nyman is a leading Finnish expert of popular music. I have started to realize better the full proximity of the cinema and popular music during the last ten years or so, and this book is chock full of further evidence of it.
3. Harvard Film Archive, October November December 2011 programme magazine. Written by Haden Guest, David Pendleton, and Brittany Gravely. Great writing on Frederick Wiseman, the Romanian film essayist Andre Ujica, the cinematographer Agnès Godard, the countercultural star Taylor Mead, the animator Helen Hill, Sergio Leone, and Henri-Georges Clouzot.
4. Markku Kuisma: Sodasta syntynyt: itsenäisen Suomen synty Sarajevon laukauksista Tarton rauhaan 1914-1920 [Born out of War: The Birth of Independent Finland from the Shots of Sarajevo till the Tartu Treaty, 1914-1920] (2010). A broad perspective of world history (including economic history) as a background to the many stages on the road to Finnish independence.
5. The New York Review of Books, 10-23 Nov 2011. Jeff Madrick and Frank Partnoy discuss in their article "Should Some Bankers Be Prosecuted?" the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation (US Senate): Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse (2011), William D. Cohan's Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World (2011), and Goldman Sachs: Report of the Business Standards Committee (2011). Thrillers and detective stories seem trite in comparison with these true stories of fraud of world catastrophic dimensions. Madrick and Partnoy suggest measures by which the biggest villains could be prosecuted.
6. On my mother's nightstand I discovered Kiveen hakatut: Urheilijat maineen polulla [Carved in Stone: Sportsmen on Their Way to Glory] written by Arto Teronen and Jouko Vuolle, 2011, with a chapter on Tapani Niku, my grandfather, a ski champion in an era when that sport still had glory. My mother had revealed that Tapani was also interested in nature conservation. Tapani was a bog expert, among other things. Walking on bogs was also supreme training in his youth a hundred years ago. Today's cross-trainer gym machines strive for a similar impact.

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