Finishing a Book: Part 2

wp_20161026_11_04_02_proThe new office seems nice. The guys who rented a space for me include people who publish a well-known Finnish journal. It has a warehouse vibe and is located where the übercool Flow Festival takes place every summer – we get free access, I’m told. There is a café nearby that is supposed to be great and a pub I know is one of the best in Helsinki. My new friends at the office told me there is a nice lunch place next to ours. There are Keith Haring stickers on the wall next to my desk, but I’m sure they are an ironic comment on 90s fashion and not an attempt to be actually fashionable.

The area is very industrial and no doubt very hip, but it also means it is quite basic. I am not looking for luxury. Nor am I fazed by the inevitable accusations of hipsterdom. Although it must be said I was shocked to discover recently that a Helsinki brochure labeled our neighborhood a “Hipsterområdet”, a hipster area.wp_20160918_17_29_50_pro

For anyone visiting the city, that usually translates into better coffee and better beer, but we don’t really have much of that. You need to know your way around and for that I recommend you acquire the services of a local guide. I could help you with the coffees.

My first job at the office was to settle in and translate a job I got through an agency. While translating, I ended up thinking that people in publishing seem to work really hard and on salaries that are rarely worth their input. Their reward is the finished product, something beautiful at the end of the process. While thinking about this and translating a news bulletin about an award given to someone at a networking event (or whatever) I noticed that my cynicism against the business world is slowly being eroded. These are mostly people who are trying their best to make a living and have a quiet air of despair that drives them to make contact with others. Unlike literary scholars and people in publishing I know, they never seem to break character or admit that we are all trying to do the same thing. Or that most of us fail in the end.

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Maybe a nice cup of coffee or a beer really is the best we can do to enjoy ourselves while waiting for the inevitable. I think that is more  or less the conclusion R. Jay Magill, Jr. reaches in his hipster book Sincerity. In any case, everything should now be in place. I have stuff to work with and a place where I can do it. I am appropriately world-weary, have a desperate feeling in my gut accompanied by a feeling of self-loathing shimmering in the back of my skull. Suvilahti feels like a home away from home.

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