A Horse from Nowhere

Short stories

Hobune eikusagilt

A Horse from Nowhere (Short stories, Estonian)
Published by Tänapäev, 2002, pp. 218

Jüri Ehlvest (1967) has always been a remarkable and original narrator. But still, his way of narrating, where the author now flees from the reader, now teases him, has left many with the impression that Ehlvest cannot be understood at all. His philosophical and metaphysical stories are full of references to history and history of religion, to the Bible, cabbala, etc. More sensitive reader also perceives that Ehlvest is a master of words, whose texts are so multilayered that some of them may start opening and their mystical landscapes may get comprehensive only after a number of successive readings.

This time, everything seems to be much simpler, and even if it is not, the ten short stories of the collection A Horse from Nowhere offer real enjoyment. I would dare to suggest that so far, this book is the best that Ehlvest has written.

The narrator Ehlvest has an alias in the book, called Ürgar Helves. The name Ürgar could be derived from the Estonian word ’ürgne’, meaning something primeval, or primordial. Ürgar tells stories to another alter ego of the author – writer Krauklis. By the way, Ürgar Helves has his own web site (http://www.hot.ee/krauklis) where we can find his poems. There are also the verses: At the beginning she sang to me her songs in such a lovely way, but/ only when she drove a broach through me and put me over the spit, only then/ I found the real contact with her music, and after that/ I became one with her.

These verses offer a key to Ehlvest’s world, where there is always something awful lurking in the shadows. But since his stories are fairy-tales of a kind, it is possible to cut off the dragon’s head, to escape from the enchanted forest and so on, but naturally, only in case, when the reader can find the riddle and solve it…

In this book Ehlvest talks more clearly than ever about yearning, deliverance, search for truth, and, of course, about a woman, and about betrayal that can be related to libido, politics or simply to greed. Beautiful Salmea dies because she was betrayed in thoughts, thinking about another woman.

The stories are full of intertextual hints and mix poetic language with everyday speech; layers of fairy-tale and real life are mixed with political and cultural allusions. The result is enviably fascinating.

Text by Rutt Hinrikus

First published in

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