Book Review | Pertti Lassila’s novel is a suitable partner for the summer heat, but there are mistakes in the historical details

Pertti Lassila has his own recipe for high-quality novel art, which is suitable for enjoying in the summer heat.


Pertti Lassila: Venice. Work. 272 s.

Publishing house aim Pertti Lassilan the publication of novels is often in the off-season, i.e. summer, which seems intuitively the right solution. Although Once the summer is over (2017) and also new Venice spend the autumn, Lassila’s prose art is a good partner for the summer heat. A clear sentence and an aphoristic reflection that accompanies the events of the novel cool down the house in Töölö like a stairwell.

Venice cast more generations of Helsinki residents on the stage, whose lives pass by the eyes than the famous pre-death fast-winding show.

Ilmari Viitala moves to Helsinki before the First World War and ends up working for Linjan Rauta, which he later buys for himself. The spouse is met in Kaisaniemi Park:

“After hearing that Maria was the only daughter of the wealthy fabric retailer Juho Karppinen, she fell in love. Maria fell in love with Ilmar because there was no reason not to fall in love. ”

Marian and Ilmar’s son Tauno meets the widow’s daughter Ess on May Day after the war. Essi is a woman who works at a bank and has a law degree and has been promoted, but bends over to the will of a bored man and stays at home to take care of Seppo, who belongs to large age groups.

Essi is, in a way, the protagonist of the novel, followed to the end, but strangely unbalanced: what, for example, happens when he changes fields after twenty years at home?

That’s not what the story tells, maybe the experience is too positive for this novel.

Venice the worldview is a modern manifestation of a literary lineage, naturalism. Attitude is seen as the dominance of everyday life and compulsion to survive over great emotions and world historical events. Emotions subside and individuals end up with horrific repetition before everything suddenly ends.

However, a look across the generations of the narrator, but focusing on small motives, creates a certain comfort in the still life.

Venice sinks but still survives from generation to generation, even though for the characters in this novel it is just an ugly, frivolity-preserved painting whose function is ultimately to mask the self-induced darkening in the mothers ’chosen wallpapers. It inspires the consecrating pastor of Ess and Tauno to reflect on Italy:

“There was an ancient culture in the country, but there was also the Vatican, the nesting place of Catholicism, which cast doubt on whether it was appropriate for a priest to visit there. Let us remember what Martti Luther saw and learned in Rome. ”

Later Septo’s only friend Matti makes an annual trip to Venice, an old habit, even though at a young age the receptive and wonderful city seems to have turned its back and friends have echoed.

The celebration is an opportunity in the novel, not for charm but for a vanitas show. Lassila’s narrator knows how to go inside people’s heads, but rises above everything as a May Day ball if necessary:

“May Day was a species that appeared on May Day eve and disappeared just as quickly as Labor Day ended. Traces of variegated paper fluttered in the streets, shards of glass flickered on the park’s cliff, a crumpled piece of sausage on the sidewalk, a tatt-shaped bottle cap, and asphalt on the wall sidewalk, something he tried not to look as he leaped past. ”

Persistent values, the biggest of which is change. Its shape just has to be predicted.

Lassilan style can be relied on almost like Olli Jaloseen or Marja-Liisa Vartioon, to the modernists of the broad lines. Also Stonerknown from the novel John Williams keep in mind, he too can tell as if everything would inevitably happen.

Venice however, there are small children in the historical details: Spanish disease was not experienced in the guarantee in the spring of 1915, when Ess’s father Alpo applied for the position of caretaker.

It seems strange, though not impossible, that “everyone had to see” Truffaut’n Jules & Jim (1962) in the early 1970s – the other film screenings mentioned are at least more relevant.




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