|Do you have to do with books in
your professional life?
Books have always been part of my life. But there is a difference
between reading and devoting oneself to books - if the latter means fascination
with paper, ink and dust. For the last four years I have worked as the chief
librarian of Kuusankoski City Library - only because I have lost my hope
in impressing women with a fascinating line of work. As you know, librarians
are not considered "sexy" - even a shepherd smelling sheep can attract more
interest. In a bar one of the worst opening lines is "Have you read War and
Peace?" "Don you know what phenomenology is" could be better. When I still
was enough stupid to trust my luck with women I worked in a number of jobs
- as a radio journalist, project coordinator in Tanzania, art critic in Helsinki,
and years ago I arranged "Snow Man" shows near the Arctic Circle - they were
strong man competitions in the middle of snow, ice and cold. The favorite
event was tug-of-war over a hole in the ice. And I was a very unsuccessful
manager of a bumbling magician and so on.
Prosaically - as a librarian it is very easy for me to get the books
I need. My duty, as a humble civil servant, is to spent all the money in
my budget on books, salaries, computers, rent, electricity, etc. This is
a great idea and it also makes library clients happy. Moreover - there are
over one million books in this area, Kymenlaakso, in different city libraries,
and my colleagues do their best to spent their budgets on books, salaries,
computers, rent, electricity, etc. God bless their diligence.
Most of the quotations are from original sources, and I have selected
them according to my own dubious taste. I have also used Bartlett's "Familiar
Quotations" and other well-known selections to look better. Sooner or later
I'll create an imaginary author with nice citations and introduce him or
her as a Nobel Candidate.
When did you start working at your authors' calendar?
'Authors' calendar' was born in 1998 - just for fun - as a simple
birthday calendar, with a few lines describing the author. Then I made a
terrible mistake - I started to enlarge my web site. Now it seems that I
have developed a "lifetime writing plan" for myself. It is a new kind of
Dantean Hell or an Internet galley. In November 2000 I changed the name of
the calendar to "books and writers," hoping that somebody will buy it and
Are you planning to publish it as a book (or rather in the plural,
of course) - or is the internet in your opinion just the perfect place for
"Books and writers" is written exclusively for the Internet. When
I get too tired to continue with it and want to get rich, I'll move to Lapland
to dig gold.
How much research goes into each of the listings? Does the amount
vary widely? How long do you work at a single entry?
It takes one week to finish an entry. Usually I spent a weekend reading
works of the author in question, and refreshing at the same time my memories,
if I have any. This is the really interesting part of the research. Writing
takes three days and often I return to the text afterwards. I don't enjoy
writing in English - it's not my native language. I always feel that I could
say the same thing better in Finnish - and write faster without dictionaries.
How many of the authors and their works have you read yourself
- or do you read for the calendar?
I started to read at the age of 12 Kafka, Maupassant, Chekhov and
other Russian classics, and Tarzan books, Simenon's mysteries, science fiction,
all kinds of literature. Most of the writers presented on the web site have
been important to me, to my relatives, or to my friends. There are reminiscences
from my parents' library, and my grand-parents' library, and philosophers
and writers whose works I was too lazy to read for exams at university (but
still passed them, what a shame!). There are Finnish writers whom I have
met or whom I wish to meet. Some of the entries are suggested by people visiting
the web site. I received a long list from Köln, which included such
names as Ingeborg Bachmann, Hermann Broch, and Max Frisch. Somebody with
a good taste, much better than mine, lives in Köln.
Who are your favourite authors (make the list as long and comment
as much as you wish)?
I think I have searched the perfect book my whole life, but the search
is, of course, waste of time. I can recommend too many authors for further
studies and warn about two or three. After reading Dostoevsky you'll never
be the same, but Dostoevsky or Tolstoy are more healthy way of twisting one's
mind than drugs. Jorge Luis Borges leads to a dead end - enjoy his stories
but do not take them too seriously. (Borges was a librarian.) Once I thought
that Heidegger's "Sein and Zeit" could solve all my philosophical problems,
especially about "Sein". I was fifteen, I had found his book from a public
library, I had it in my hand, and I couldn't read German. So I started to
study this great language at school but soon realized I'm too young to read
Heidegger - he is no Edgar Rice Burroughs. Last year Heidegger's classic
was translated into Finnish. I returned to the work, with great expectations,
but found now too much "Sein" and too little "Zeit." When you get older,
"Zeit" becomes more important.