34 thoughts on “Collected Fiction of Leena Krohn

  1. Doña Quixote and Other Citizens. Portrait

    (Tales of the citizens of an unusual city)


    I wonder if it is significant that ‘sparrow’ in English is a Sp(anish) Arrow, using its own beak as an arrow into the feathers of its wounded self, before I mercifully crushed it with my foot to help the arrow bury deeper.
    DQ then does the same for me with her cruel-to-be-kind barb of naive wisdom? Spreading the deadly focus point with her pluralist width of foot.


    “I thought that if I were to spend longer with my reflections, I would become confused with them, and no one would be able to say any longer where they had their origin.”

    A chilling and freshly angled account of what is tantamount to a visit with one’s children to a funfair mirror maze…
    Ending with a coda of all lights being switched on together and not one by one (like those days in SPARROW switching on as years again, or vice versa?)

  3. STRAW

    “The ice had just melted and the sea was breaking up into the year’s first white horses.”

    Is it a significant self-evident truth that both Sparrow and Straw are vaguely similar looking words? It would be if this were not a translation!
    It does mean, meanwhile, that we are now beginning to get our first real impression of DQ herself.


    I now see more clearly that these are sections rather than discrete stories. And there accretes a version of the city where we live within these leitmotifs growing as gestalt, from the end stepping-stone of ‘Straw’ to the ‘stet’ (my word, not this section’s) of prevailing stone here, stone in varying moods, as blended with space, and people’s softness. And other sporadic city factors.
    After what I said above about Sibelius, I couldn’t quite believe my luck when I discovered a reference to Tuonela in this section!


    “At night, these small green towers are the lighthouses of the city.”

    A brilliant vision of this city with small glass towers erected throughout.
    Making eventually the gestalt of Sibelius Hall in Lahti?
    Or because Sibelius was a forerunner of Glass?


    “…a lovely creature or something matter is perhaps intended to be, but that it always betrays and forgets -”

    A comparison between a pantomime dwarf and an Indian dancer. A reality rope-trick of a tale, one that starts with a school bus and a forehead bust..
    Coincidentally a Cro Magnon that I just read about today alongside reading about a Mornoloc elsewhere.


    “But don’t you believe in something like reconciliation? Or if not reconciliation, then oblivion or – perhaps grace?”

    DQ and I gradually emerging as characters, in a conversation featuring a deeply angled child-like poignancy, as we are walking around a brick tower in a well-imagined or real park. Death deemed as a part of pretending not to be there. This reconciliation now seeming to be part of the concept of reva-mending whereby I first encountered and reviewed Krohn fiction in 2011.
    Dragonfly and tower, like music trying to be nothing and something at once.


    The narrator seems to share an inter-narrative way station with us, sharing, too, a seedy hotel room with a stranger. The contrast of a sheet-wrapped mummy and Hokusai’s wave makes grief seem tangible. This author – or her narrator become myself – seems to have a unique knack of eclectic images to convey universal emotions.
    (I use the word ‘unique’ advisedly, and I – a blend of my real self and someone I see as narrating my own life – have read a lot of literature in my 68 years. I am in there somewhere, beneath the healing bandages of coming sleep.)


    “…a hatred so bitter it would be enough to burn the entire city to ruins.”

    DQ extols The Magic Flute, but thankfully also mentions the far superior String Quintets (that I have on my iPod).
    I hope I haven’t angered her by saying that.

    “…put his cap on his head and left.”


    I hope it is not a spoiler to remark on a room with its moving population to something that it is a room that itself moves.
    The routes of towns listed and linked in the mind and later listed and linked on the ground – an interface that could only happen in Literature, making you think of life in quite a different way from what it would have been without Literature.



    I think a tapiola would be an apt name for a sort of watch or clock?
    Here, aptly, too, we learn that DQ, seeking a new watch strap in a clock-shop, sees herself as old. I have gone with her to the shop, but I am not sure she is right, but what do I know? I only know that I liked the concept of a digital watch showing only the moment – not the passage of time that DQ rightly calls elastic.
    But I am left with a question: is a twinkling of an eye an idiom for a moment or for a barely hidden sense of humour. Ah, the latter is a twinkle IN an eye, not OF an eye, but I noticed BOTH at least implied by the ending of this still ticking story.
    (Time: defined as the previous section’s room that BOTH moves (or changes position) itself AND has things move or change or swap over within it?)


    “…the kind of day when all that is old seems to be disappearing and there is not yet anything new to take its place.”

    This the perfect piece to read on New Year’s Eve, as I have just done.
    Something that inspires me after a personally bad year when, at times, I assumed I was this – then as yet unseen – text’s ‘Incurable One’…. DQ to the rescue, today, as it were.
    Also this piece seems to convey to me the essence of the music of Sibelius that I have been revisiting more and more in recent days.


    A tactile communion with a compass-ionate tree, echoing a stoical speech from Uncle Vanya.

    [ Chronology – 1889: Bergson, Time and Free Will – Hauptmann, Before Sunrise – 1890: Frazer, The Golden Bough – Van Gogh, Road with Cypress Trees – Guyau, The Origin of the Idea of Time […] 1900: Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams – Chekhov, Uncle Vanya – Husserl, Logical Investigations – Mahler, Fourth Symphony – Sibelius, Finlandia – ]


    “‘How could anyone be mistaken about a peacock?’ she asked in turn. ‘Especially if you see it spread its tail.'”

    This tale spreads its own tail in the last magnificent paragraph, to obviate its earlier deadpan-narrated betrayal.


    A haunting piece into which one can imagine the sculpted bodies of a couple on the lid of the stone coffin tomb – within which their real bodies had been buried in ancient times – still continuing to talk to each other.

    Room of change within, room of time on top? Or vice versa?


    “I look at the tuft of grass that swayed all summer in the cleft in the stone step outside Doña Quixote’s front door. Now it is only yellowed straw, but to me it still looks as if it split the stone.”

    It is as if it is myself as well as the reader who accompanies DQ on the normal business of her life, i.e. not a separate character within the stories that tell of this business of her life. A myself of time and a myself of change. Like this chamber of time and chamber of change (the latter via an estate agent), both chambers potentially carrying her same sad memories.
    Fill one chamber, like this particular story’s fable of a clay goblet, then the other chamber empties?
    Which the lethal chamber, which the yellowed straw, though?


    “‘No, no, no,’ said Deska. ‘Look!'”

    What she pointed to was not the poplars that prefigured, even when this book was written, the onset of climate change.
    No, it was the idyllic girlish things of love. Who can blame them? Except they may be reading this today, much older and wiser than they were then?
    In honour of this book, yesterday, I bought, with a Christmas gift token, some string quartets and piano quintets by Joonas Kokkonen and Jean Sibelius on two albums.


    “I wanted to turn on the standard lamp, but it was behind him, and I could not get up and cross the floor while he watched.”

    A striking depiction of a meeting going well but suddenly turning awkward for no obvious reason. I hope this does not happen to my meeting with this book. A spring sprung wrong.


    “‘Tell me who you are,’ she said slowly. It was an aggravating question. I wish she had not asked it.”

    I have already referred a few times above to my identity in interface with Doña Quixote as ‘I’, reader or narrator or author.
    Remarkably, only an hour ago or so I read and reviewed (here) a story entitled ‘The Portrayed Man’ that coincidentally resonates perfectly with the seed of ‘The Memory of Our Deeds’. Real-time reviewing or dreamcatching often produces, for me, such astonishing synchronicities.


    I note the phrase “the ineluctability of chance”, i.e. that each of us is born.
    Growing in our own eyes to the perfect size, but a mirror is so slippy, difficult to stop growing. Reaching up to BE the kite.
    This intangible text could be read and read again forever without fully growing into it, leaving no time for reading the rest of the book.
    Anyone who reads this book without giving full growth to each section of each work is not reading it at all. To give full growth to a text, one needs to dreamcatch it, too. How can you summarise the unsummarisable? Hence, I wonder if I should stop here and merely read the rest without dreamcatching it, without responsibility for it? But to read anything properly you need publicly to dreamcatch it, especially this book. And then each of all the dreamcatchers can then together triangulate its coordinates towards the optimum meaning, the optimum appreciation.


    “Don’t you recognise an ordinary goldfish?”

    The sometimes meticulously visionary duties in looking after someone else’s aquarium and its fish, produces another sudden dislocation of intentions between two people. Another strikingly dissprung spring.
    It is as if deadpan ‘Objective Correlatives’ can be counterproductively divisive as well as sharply assonant, consonant, allusive, elusive, disarmingly so.
    Depending on the context.


    “But whatever does not stir, remains.”

    A powerful piece, an already dreaded nub of this reading experience, as DQ grows not only old but also ill, and the last paragraph is a poignant premonition of something we see on the news every night in 2016.


    “The comb lies on the table before me between the pen and the book.”

    Sweetly, the ‘room of change’ and the ‘room of time’ now come together in an apotheosis of life being present in anything.
    But are we acting out a child’s philosophy by believing that the seeing of life there makes it life when we see it there but not believing life is there when we turn our eyes away? But as with a finger’s exfoliation perhaps our eyes leave life behind with a now ownerless, but lasting, residual vision of it?


    That exfoliatable finger points, the looking-glass boy jeers, the room that moved through time and within itself is now empty.
    And now forself.
    Another sudden unexplained awkwardness,

  25. LOST

    “There was something I absolutely had to tell her. What was it? What was it? I forget so much every time I step into this room.
    When I look at Doña Quixote, she seems suddenly to have shrunk,…”

    Room as aquarium, because water shrinks?
    One doesn’t get used to living, it says, but it’s relatively easy to get used to dying, I guess.
    But that presupposes knowing when living ends and dying starts
    – even though living is part of dying? or vice versa?


    “I hope it has no meaning.”

    A cross between a lock in a canal or a flood-barrier? Except it is a narrow gate In the open sea, like this review, like this text itself.


    “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of men and cattle in it.”

    That inverse ‘en saga’ of a diaspora seems to symbolise the drowning tides of migrants today, those Oceanides or the Tower of Babel where Zerubbabel is mispronounced Sibelius?
    DQ’s Asshammers-induced vision of men measuring a roof is poignant, as now she is not only old and dying but also confused? Except she’s none of these things, with MY eyes ever upon her from within, her Sancho Panza soul. (Links are to two of my concurrent preternaturally-relevant Dreamcatchers).


    I shall be continuing with a re-read and re-review of TAINARON soon, and a link will be shown below in due course.

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