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||Erkki (Vilho Kalevi) Rekimies (1923-1995)|
Finnish journalist and juvenile book writer, whose story Tapporahat (1959), a realistic adventure story of a boy and a wolf, gained international fame. Rekimies received several literary awards, among them H.C. Andersen reward (1962) and the Austrian State Prize for Literature (1967). Many of his works appeared in the popular Poikien seikkailukirjasto (Boys' Adventure Library) series. Central subjects in his works were the beauty and the harshness of the Nordic nature, animals, and historical events seen from a child's perspective.
"Ja pojasta tuntui, että hänen oikea kätensä oli äkkiä muuttunut sudeksi ja juossut metsään. Voisiko olla niin, hän ajatteli, että susi oli sittenkin paennut, sen henki kadonnut, ja tähän lumelle oli jäänyt vain viheliäinen laiha raato. Se ei kyennyt vastustamaan, ei edes näyttämään hampaitaan. Mutta poikaa vaivasi ajatus, että hänen kätensä oli samanlainen; sekään ei kyennut mihinkään. Jospa käsi oli muuttunut sudeksi..." (from Tapporahat)
Rekimies was born in Kouvola, the son of Vilho Aleksanteri Rekimies, a depot chief, and Hilja Keidas. After secondary school studies he worked as a journalist at the magazines Sisämaa, Lapin Kansa, Rovaniemi (1946-52), and freelance radio reporter (1948-52, 1965-67). Rekimies also studied at Jyväskylä Teacher's Training College (1953).
In 1949 Rekimies married Reetta Sipinen; they had two children. From 1953 to 1975 he was employed as an elementary school teacher and school director in Kuusankoski, where he taught literature and Finnish at the local folk high school (1961-66). In addition to writing novels, he participated in the activities of regional writer's asscotiation Paltta and contributed columns to the newpaper Kouvolan Sanomat.
As a novelist Rekimies started his career with the juvenile
book Pahakurun aavesusi (1954). The story depicted two boys
and their encounter with smugglers in Lapland. It was followed by Hannu
a historical novel story set in Mexico during Cortez's conquests. In
the story the Finnish title character Hannu joins the Spanish
conquistadors on their invasion. Willaim H. Prescott's Meksikon valloitus (The Conquest of
Mexico) had appeared in Finnish in 1942; it was one of Rekimies's
Rekimies continued historical adventure stories in Jouko
Väkivahva ja Karvahousun pojat (1957),
where fights and dizzy events took the major part of the narrative. The
novel dealt with Viking raids to the Mediterranean. After publishing
books set in the years of World War II or present times, Rekimies
returned to history with Tuomas ja tykkivene (1968). It
focused on a young boy in the middle of the war between Russia and
Sweden-Finland. In Hopeakynsi (1968)
an immigrant boy named Tom Wood befrieds in Delaware with an orphan
Indian boy, Hopeakynsi. At the end the story turns into a tragedy when
Hopeakynsi commits suicide in order to unite the tribes. Native
Americans were also the subject of Rekimies's Näkymätön intiaani (1972),
his last juvenile novel, which tells about a group of people traveling
by stagecoach. The story has some similarities with Ernest
Haycox's Stage to Lordsburg
(1937). Both these books could be classified as Westerns, but the
relations between Native Americans and European settlers go beyond
stereotypes familiar from movies.
Ukkoslaivueen kasvatti (1958), Uponnut sotasaalis (1959), Turman korpit (1960), SOS-Hanhikari (1962), and Laatokan lentäjät (1963), were set in the 20th century, all of them portraying young boys whose life is changed with the war or who help the army. The protagonist of Suurten metsien vaeltaja (1956) was a fox, who meets its fate in the Continuation War.
Rekimies's novella Tapporahat is considered the author's best book. The events take place in the period of one day, during which a boy and a wolf go through a silent, dramatic struggle in the wilderness. Finally the boy gives up his dreams of getting reward for the killing of the wolf, which is then ironically shot by a parliament member, who is hunting for votes. The work was translated in 1966 into German under the title Jagt den Wolf. Reetta Rekimies published the children's book Mesirinteen hirmu in 1978.
For further reading: Suomalaisia lasten- ja nuortenkirjailijoita II, toim. Vuokko Blinnikka, Kaija Salonen ja Kari Vaijärvi (1975); Wild West Finland by Juri Nummelin (2016, pp. 265-270) - Other Finnish juvenile book writer's (for boys): Jalmari Sauli (1889-1957), Väinö Riikilä (1906-1969), Tauno Karilas (1900-1980), Kaarlo Nuorvala (1910-1967) and Jorma Kurvinen (1931-2002).