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The Darklight: KULKURIN VALSSI (THE WALTZ OF THE VAGABOND) -JYRKI LINNANKIVI-book review by Diana Mistera

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KULKURIN VALSSI – (The Waltz of the Vagabond) Author: Jyrki Linnankivi Language: Finnish Release date: 02 / 2017 Pages: 200 ISBN: 978-952-01-1499-2 Jyrki Linnankivi is known in Europe and in the world as Jyrki69, the lead singer of a Finnish gothic band The 69EYES and the rock band The69Cats. He has come out recently, as Jyrki 69 with his solo cd The Helsinki Vampires, and he is an Ambassador for Unicef. I 've followed the 69EYES since 2002, and when I read the news that Jyrki had written a book, therefore an author like myself, I was very curious. Why? Because I was sure it would not be the usual biography that, nowadays, is so popular among more or less famous artists, I knew it would be different because of what he had said in his interviews during the promotion tour. It was going to be a long trip that he wanted to tell on the basis of his experiences; in fact, here in Finland, the book is found in section ”Matkailu” as known as: Travel. A large part of the book is dedicated to his travels in the USA where he still returns at least once a year. He likes Elvis and rock and roll, he loves music and he has always been curious about what was going on in that field, and in those days, when he was in his twenties, the USA was a step forward, and the need to travel there whenever he could, was strong and exciting. I haven't ever been to the USA, although I was going to get my degree in Anglo-American, language& literature; a dream that I had to give up on for economic reasons, but also a dream that I haven't completely given up on, and right back in the year 2002, when I first met Jyrki in Bologna in a Gothic bar named Transylvania at a private party, I was studying the beat generation, Jack Kerouac and his ”On the Road”; a book that is often mentioned by him in his book and interviews. A book that probably changed his life,as it changed mine, the only book, along with Memnoch the Devil, by Anne Rice that I put it in my suitcase when I decided to move to Finland, leaving behind me my entire library of hundreds of books, and I'm not just saying that, I had been an assiduous reader my entire life up to that point. When you decide to embark on a journey, you choose with whom you want to take it, and I took Jack Kerouac and Anne Rice. The first because I wanted to get my degree in Anglo-American, and I wanted to do it with an essay on the Beat Generation and Kerouac, so, it will always be a reminder, in case I forget that I wish to achieve this one dream, and the other to remember my roots. And by the way, we share a similar experience at the same age, he with the Jack Daniel's and me with the Tequila, so I couldn't not laugh when I read it. But back to Jyrki and his ”Kulkurin Valssi”. As I mentioned atthe beginning of this post, the book it's written in Finnish so it took me a little longer than usual to read it. I loved his style, and I learned new Helsinki's slang words, for example it took me 20 pages at least, to understand that ”gimmat ” means girls! I liked the first-person narrative, and most importantly I was delighted to discover that, excluding the States, we were in London and Berlin during the same period, both on different trips. Like him, I am very close to London, especially because of my roots, my mum is English, so I was fortunate to have wonderful aunts who lived in London, especially my Aunty Su, who made me experience London like no Italian would ever be able to do. Jyrki was driven by his love of music, and London has always been a crucial hub for music, like Berlin, I was guided by my roots and for me when I go back, it always feels like going to one of my several ”homes”, and the emotion is always present. What I had always seen as huge, like the Tower of London and, the Tube, has new dimensions and the town itself is amplified. It amplifies the way I walk on those stones, everything is changing or has changed, and yet I feel I belong to that city anyway, and he does too. Berlin is another city to which I feel an affinity and, by reading it with his eyes, I found myself sharing in that cab, or walking in front of the Zoo, his same thoughts and reflections. It was a unique experience for me the trip to Berlin, when traces of the wall were still visible on the asphalt, and when the photos of dead Jews, in black and white, were in an outdoor photograph exhibition in front of those 300 m of wall still standing, with the remains of the watching towers and the barbed wire on the ground. I cried that day, because until that moment in my life, what had happened in WW 2, I had only read about in history books, and despite the dates, it seemed so unreal, so distant, and there were real pictures, hitting me straight in the eyes and soul. To see this evidence of that part of history in front of my eyes, was like a cold shower, a frozen one. Paris is the city that I haven't yet visited, and I read the chapter devoted to it eagerly, with a bit of envy, in a good way of course; but the most delicious dish of the dinner, is always left for last, and I will visit Paris when the time comes and Jim Morrison's grave, drinking some red wine there like he did.  Rome ... well, Rome is the city where I was born. I walked out of those streets where he walked many times, each time as if it were the first. I visited the Protestant Cemetery, where I put my red rose on the grave of Keats. I read the verses of Shelley at his tombstone, not because I was a goth, in those years in Italy there were Paninari and Darks, I was dressed in black and wore purple lipstick, but I listened to Duran Duran and Alphaville, my goth period arrived later; but evidently the blood was already there, it already ran in my veins ... The part of the book that I loved particularly is the final part, dedicated to his Africa , where he was as an Ambassador for Unicef. I found the chapter on Voodoo very interesting, and agree that certain things it's better not to know sometimes, and Alphonso did well indeed not to tell you Jyrki. I have read and reread this part dedicated to Africa because between the lines I perceived his soul, his growth as a human being, which lead me to want to meet him again at a distance of 15 years. I don't think he remembered me, at the book fair in Helsinki last September, and how could he? 15 years are a long time and changes are inevitable. That distant 24 October 2002 we were seated one behind the other, I was with my friend Eva talking all night with Bazie, we were his guests at that party, and you with everyone else. Congratulations Jyrki. I loved Kulkurin Valssi, and I hope to read a new book of yours soon. With love and respect ©  Diana Mistera PS The pictures are mine, so when you share mention it.

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