SEX IN THE (NORDIC) CITY
11/1/19: I am an author, but I am also a psychotherapist and sexual therapist. What do my clients want to talk about? The mismatch of desires in a relationship, sexual identity, polyamory, sex in the busy years of life, sex and porn addiction. Sex and loneliness—something slightly reminiscent of what Carrie Bradshaw felt in Sex and the City. But without the glamour of Manhattan and a group of wonderful friends.
Finnish men are lonely too. Loneliness has even been called our new national disease. There is success, a hectic life, wealth, social media, Tinder—and loneliness. Increasingly, men are making appointments to see a therapist, both on their own and with their partner. Continue >>
A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF
8/23/19: I was born and raised in Kallio, a traditional working-class district of Helsinki. Growing up, I learned a certain street smartness that has profited me greatly in my work as an author and a therapist.
Kallio was a rough neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s; I have often compared its street life back then to Amarcord, a movie by Federico Fellini. When I was born, our family lived next to the local library. Everyone in our slightly peculiar family loved reading, and the library became a second home to me—a home much quieter and safer than my family’s. I knew early on that I wanted to write books. Continue >>
PALACE OF WIND
1/29/19: Anuji is standing behind me. I’m busy with my suitcase; a strap buckle is broken, and the name tag has fallen off. I haven’t seen my passport in ages, and the ticket for my connecting flight is nowhere to be found. “Anja, I’m leaving now.” It takes a moment until I understand, until I remember. I turn around and look at her. She is standing there, still, looking straight forward. A little nod of the head. A little smile.
She is calm because she is full of emotion. She is perfectly focused because she is overwhelmed. She will not open her arms for a generous hug, or kiss me on the cheeks, or give me a high five. She will not raise her voice or try to come up with something witty before I leave. She oozes presence like a warm light. She is breathing with her entire being. Continue >>
THE CRETAN PATIENT
1/28/19: Those close to me know that I always carry a copy of The English Patient with me, and I mean always. The original version, at the very least, accompanies me on longer journeys in my purse or backpack or rolled up in my pocket. In most cases, I also take the Finnish and French translations with me. At home, I always have the book at hand on a desk or a nightstand or the bookshelf in the dining room, and often also on the shampoo shelf in the bathroom.
Whenever a copy falls apart, I buy a new one. In fact, I have more than thirty copies, spare copies, and spare copies of spare copies on my bookshelves. I continually add to my collection in bookstores around the world. Most often, I buy secondhand, because I find used books particularly fascinating: the pages have softened and may have underlines, sidelines, exclamation marks, or stars drawn by another devout “patient” of whatever nationality, or food stains, tearstains, or rumpled patches from reading the book in the bath. Continue >>
Photo: Tero Honkaniemi
Books and more . . .
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Leafy Weather. It often crosses my mind when I’m riding my bicycle in the city in the fall. This is how I remember it: A woman is riding her bike. She is in a hurry; the matter is urgent. The leaves are making the rails slippery, and the driver cannot control the tram. Continue
10 Facts of Life. “Books and writing have always been my safe haven,” says Anja Snellman. “Without the troubles at home, I might never have sought refuge in hiding under the table and writing poems.” Continue
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