An open letter to Stephen King – We need to talk about Perse


It’s an absolute delight for a Finn, whenever we are mentioned anywhere. Much like in that old Monty Python sketch, where the town Wains Cotting is mentioned on the telly. For a Finn, the movie Die Hard comes to mind. Also King Ralph, where…ahem, the Royal Family of Finland actually gets some screen time. Or how about the Monty Python song “Finland”, in which Michael Palin pours his heart out about snacking lunch and watching TV in Finland. Stuff like this makes one´s heart burst with pride, so you can only imagine the thrill of reading Stephen King´s Duma Key in its original language.



unnamedAs soon as the word “perse” hits the page, the idea of reading on without googling is downright impossible. Why? Because the protagonist of the book does a Google-search for “perse”, and gets only one (!) hit. It is even noted that it must be a record of some sort. On this date, googling “perse” will get you a modest 32 600 000 results. It may have been a few less in 2008, but surely more than one. Also, why would anyone ever google “perse”, right?

(For the uninitiated, Perse here is an evil spirit, not be confused with perse, a crude word that means ass. So when you do google it, make sure it is the former perse, or you might be in trouble.)

So I put it to you Mr King, that you did not perform the Google search yourself. Either that, or you just wanted to add a little bonus for your Finnish readers? I hope for the latter, but in that scenario, the joke was wasted: In the translation, “Perse” was changed into “Kora”. That means nothing, but still produces 44 500 000 results.
But it is there. Perse is repeated on the pages of a critically acclaimed best-seller, and nobody knows about it. It almost feels like: “Did Stephen King just wink at me? Did we just share a moment?” It is exactly this kind of stuff that makes King´s readers come back for more. That feeling of being in on a secret, which is known only by the reader and the writer. This is one secret that should be known by more people, especially Finnish people.

As evil spirits go, Perse is up there with the greats, such as…no, as far as evil spirits go, Perse is the ”evil entity named after ass”-antagonist of all times. Perse kicks ass. Could we get three cheers for Perse!

Be it a joke, or just one those happy accidents, we want to thank you Mr. King. Not just for giving us Perse, but for the thousands of pages of excitement, terror, and dark rides. Yours is a bibliography unlike anyone else´s, with a quality/quantity-ratio never to be equaled. Also, thanks for giving this writer a chance to repeat the word “perse”, without being naughty at all.

To conclude, a few choice Perse-moments from Duma Key, of which many can be found on chapter 20 – Perse:



(Remember, there is nothing funny about these, since we are talking about an evil spirit, not ass)

“I thought of the Perse with her rotting sails”
“Elizabeth’s connection with Perse was closer than mine”
“But the most important thing is that Perse’s down there”
“The thought of trying to drown Perse in the old tractor´s gas tank made me cold all over”
“Where is the china Perse now?”
“…but Perse wasn´t dead. Worse luck for us”
“Perse screamed inside it, and I felt my nose begin to bleed”

This article contains 25 perses, but only three asses.



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Ville NummenpääVille used to play guitar, compose, and write lyrics for the bands Euthanausea and Skyward. He is now embarking on a new career writing TV-screenplays, articles, short stories, and possibly stage plays. His screenwriting debut was for the tv-show Kimmo (2012-), and he is currently developing other new exciting projects for TV, cinema, and radio. His first published work on page was for an anthology Adverbially Challenged (2016), a book for writers, by writers. When not writing, you can find him on the sofa watching movies or blasting some
death metal.

10 replies

  1. with hungarian pronunciation it means “of course”. imagine when you are in a quiet office in helsinki, speaking in hungarian and loudly express your agreement with a person you are speaking on phone saying “persze, persze!” 😀

  2. Not perse, but also the lovely bussi always brings a smile to my friends when I have some bussilippu on my table. Bussi is a little friendly kiss in Austrian German, and they ask me why I even have to pay for this. 🙂

  3. I read “Duma Key” back in 2010 or 2011, when still living in my homecountry. Then I thought that the ship’s name ‘Perse’ sounded creepy and disturbing. In all fairness, that’s something King is a master at; creating a nice atmosphere for horror stories.

    Then, after two years in Finland and learning Finnish language I recently remembered about ‘Perse’ ship… I’m glad I read the book a long time ago, otherwise learning Finnish would have ruined the story for me. How could someone be afraid of a ghost ship named ‘ass’?

  4. My brother in law always hated going to the grocery store when he had to ask for a pussi. Can I get a bag !!!! He thought it sounded dirty !!!

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