“I grab mom’s outstretched hand. Mom holds me close, and we twirl quietly on the floor where the spring sun has painted a lozenge-shaped pattern.”
The jolly and nostalgic story of a mother who gives everything to her career, and of a son who forgives everything.
Six-year-old Jesse Vuorinen knows exactly how to make his mother smile, where the key to the secret drawer is and what actually happens when mom wears a man’s shirt.
Sixteen-year-old Jesse knows considerably less after spending years away from his mother. She, the author Marjatta Aalto, is a restless citizen of the world who never stays too long in one place but is now back in Helsinki. On Jesse’s mind lingers the summer of a lifetime, a bohemian life by his mother’s side.
Jesse spends the next few years trying harder and harder to get rid of his mother’s shadow, but to no avail. Relationships, work, founding a family – his mother’s figure always looms in the background. Until one day the last turbulences surface: Marjatta Aalto is found dead in her lover’s bathroom, in an impoverished suburb of Tampere.
Jesse, now a thirty-something divorcee trying to get his life together and working as a library clerk, is almost relieved: at last he can know with certainty where his mother is and how she is doing.
Jesse’s tone is relaxed and ironic. Marjatta, the artistic soul for which love is neither stable nor meant to stay, is described through various angles, including her own literary production.
Antti Ritvanen is a talented writer whose style is smooth and flexible, with a keen sense of measure and rhythm.
Very few debut novels offer the kind of fury, narrative fluency, variety of form, and mastery of the depicted world that Ritvanen achieves with his novel How to Remember Me. This is overall a fierce novel, with harsh themes and subjects that Ritvanen handles with fine and precise language. The narrative flows, the novel is skilfully crafted, and the whole is at once tension-filled and touching.
According to Jesse, the main character of Antti Ritvanen’s debut novel, Jesse’s family is a blend of the Greek tragedies with the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”. This description is not just an apt summary of the family’s mixed-up life but of the whole novel. It contains Oedipal relations, rough love, blood, sweat and tears, with sometimes soggy sentimentality and other times great drama.
– Turun Sanomat
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An excerpt in English will be available