Estonian Literary Magazine: Letters to Aunt Anne


Kirjad tädi Annele

Letters to Aunt Anne (Novels, Estonian)
Published by Jumalikud Ilmutused, 2010, pp. 239

Urmas Vadi (1977) has written more than ten books. He has written short stories and drama texts, has been a drama producer, and has even seen the development of one of his scripts into a film, Meeting with a Stranger, made by Jaak Kilmi.

Of all Vadi’s works, the public has been most enthusiastic about the musical Georg, the libretto of which covers the life of the Estonian singer Georg Ots. Ots was very popular and much loved in the post-WWII decades, the sound of his voice still echoes in the ears of the audience and Vadi takes him nearer to new generations of theatre-goers.

However, Vadi felt that something was still missing in his writing career, and that something was a novel. Letters to Aunt Anne contains eleven letters, written by the first person hero Urmas Vadi about the writing of a novel. The first two letters are followed by a selection of
short stories and other short texts, alternating with letters, under the title of The Anatomy of Foxes. The writing of a novel proves to be hard, its progress is slow, and it is helped neither by the decision not to cut his hair nor by other attempts at self-flagellation. The letters in themselves do not attempt to be deep confessions in the epistolary genre but, rather, they mostly are commentaries, explanations or simple remarks.

The book is set in 2008. The first letter explains the origin of the idea of writing a novel: “The years are passing by ... but I am wasting myself doing god knows whatever superficial things
instead of writing the work I am meant to write – a novel.”

While the first two chapters of the novel are about the author’s childhood and the novel seems to have actually started, the next instalment the author sends to Aunt Anne is only a short
story. The following instalments are short stories as well: Death of Tartu is a story of the misunderstood writer E, and Not to Melt as a Snowflake on a Warm Mitten is a story about the meaning of life. To melt or not to melt?

But when you meet beautiful Lizett on your path of life – and life is commonly understood as a journey on a path – it is no longer important when or where you meet the death of Tartu.

Auditor and Wood Worms are even better short stories; all kinds of contemplations on truth, the autobiographical self and other issues add to the author’s scope, tie together the
science-fictional and real universes and show the possibilities of finding radiance in everyday life. These forked stories do not develop into a novel, and the book is not even a handbook for
writing a novel. Instead, Letters to Aunt Anne is an original and unexpected book, a small mystical laboratory of stories, wrought for the reader’s pleasure.

Text by Rutt Hinrikus

First published in Estonian Literary Magazine No 1, 2011

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