Earlier this year I posted about Hannu Luntiala and the novel he wrote entirely from text messages. This week, it was my good fortune to have the author of The Last Messages comment about the post. I would like to note up front, that Luntiala is not a native English speaker and that he should be granted great latitude when reading his comment. While it casts doubt on the judgment of the Finnish author that he chose my paltry page to register some clarification, perhaps we can chalk it up to “Cup O’ Books” being Finnish for “super terrific happy blog being most read by Americans”. Hey, you never know.
I think it important to point out that, while I detected a slight note of defensiveness in the tone of the comment, it may simply be overzealous marketing language. Mr. Luntiala has a book to push, has gotten some attention due to its format, and is laying some groundwork for possible translation.Â Sounds pretty smart to me. I just hope he doesn’t expect anyone to read his comment here, because the last hit I got was at a blind intersection.
One final thing before I talk about Luntiala’s comments. I cannot read Finnish, and therefore I cannot read the book until its translation, so none of my comments should be taken as endorsement or criticism of the actual tome. I just found the use of the technology, format and context interesting and worthy of note and speculation.
There were a couple of things in the Luntiala’s comment that prompted me to revisit this novel. First, in spite of the American tendency to treat people from elsewhere, who speak English worser than we does, like an idiot and ignore the fact that they speak at least twice as many languages, Mr. Luntiala is intelligent enough to recognize buzz, and to know that it doesn’t last. He is savvy enough to try laying the groundwork for a translation, and he has me typing away about a novel I haven’t even read yet.
Another thing that struck me from Mr. Luntiala’s follow-up was that Finnish SMS has many more characters from which to choose than American SMS. If he is right, and the Finns get 160 characters with which to paint versus the American 20, perhaps SMS can be more expressive than I first thought. In spite of his claim to be the first TXT novelist, I found Chinese author Qian Fuzhang to have a more serious claim. He actually text-messaged his novel, rather than using traditional printing methods. Either way, my real point is that Chinese, which uses characters rather than letters, probably has an entirely different penchant for being used as TXT. My first impression would be that Chinese is actually better suited to the text message format.
Then again, after listening to NPR last night and Brian McConnachie’s Vocal Impressions series perhaps podcasting and the return of the oral tradition will become bigger news. Since I have a face for radio (and blogging), perhaps that is an avenue I should pursue. Maybe The Last Messages should be released solely as an audio book read by Sean Connery.
Many thanks for Mr. Luntiala for his response. When his book is translated into English I will be sure to pick it up and let my three readers know what I think.