Hot and Cool Jansson & Jazz

by John Holbo on July 30, 2010

Golly, I haven’t posted to a blog for nigh a month. I haven’t actually been off in the wilderness but we’ve been on vacation and I resolved to keep my news and blog engagement to a minimum, while enjoying the great outdoors – Oregon and then New York – just to see how that treats my head. Good, it turns out. Reading several whole books, I started to feel the old attention span growing back.

Best: two short Tove Jansson novels – more or less ‘adult’ novels, at any rate not moomintroll books: The Summer Book and The True Deceiver [amazon]. Lovely stuff. Seasonal and moody and melancholy and not as funny as the moomin books, but funny. Mildly obsessive characters sort of bump into each other as they make painful and pleasurable private ways through the summer or winter. Some moomintypes have turned human – palpable touches of fillyjonkery (fillyjonquerie?), hemulic tidiness, whomperish literality, my-ish determination, etc. Which is interesting to watch. (But that’s not the only reason to read the books.)

And now that I check my Flickr contact updates …

The Library of Congress is serially posting to Flickr what promises to be a huge set of Golden Age jazz photos taken by William Gottlieb. (First link takes you to the easier-to-overview but only just started Flickr stuff. Second, to the complete and text searchable, but less overviewable complete collection.) I like this Cab Calloway. And a nice Django Rheinhardt. Gene Krupa as a zombie? Eh.

Gottlieb released it all into the public domain but some of the images still have publicity and privacy rights issues, apparently.



Phil 07.30.10 at 7:28 pm

My friend Amanda is the Fillyjonk. I accept no substitute.


Phil 07.30.10 at 7:31 pm

I liked the Summer Book, though, and will look out for the other one. I was tempted by A Winter Book, but put it down quickly when I realised that it was an anthology put together posthumously by other hands. Something about Jansson’s writing (and the way her writing populated my imaginative landscape at quite an early age) brings on this kind of possessive, if not precious, reaction.


John Holbo 07.31.10 at 2:05 am

“The True Deceiver” is darker than “The Summer Book”, Phil – as the title suggests. It’s more intense and Ibsenesque. If it’s precious, it’s more in a “Doll’s House” kind of way. Miniature via emotional compression. People having to stay indoors all winter, anyway, going off a bit. I think the characters in “Summer” – the granddaughter and grandmother and the bit parts, are more well-rounded. The “True Deceiver” cast are more spiritually one-note (hence more moominlike). They are vivid Types, emblems of spiritual positions or conditions, which makes for a different type of fiction. Not necessarily better or worse, but maybe more or less suited to readers’ tastes.


belle le triste 07.31.10 at 9:30 am

I saw a second-hand hardback 60s edition of TJ’s autobiography (“A Sculptor’s Daughter” I think it’s called in English) on Amazon, for something like £200, and managed to stay my clicking hand (only just). Has anyone here read it? I’m hoping it will be re-issued now that her more of her adult work is being made available.

“The Winter Book” has pretty good stuff collected in it, including a memoir of her early family life (very bohemian, very political). The Muskrat was a former boyfriend.


Alex 08.06.10 at 3:52 pm

Isn’t the fillyjonk a lightly glossed version of the author? Not really a Mary Sue, because she keeps quite a lot of her problems through the translation.

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