Thursday, 8 July 2010

Seduced by a cover

Have you ever been seduced by a cover? Well, this is what happened to me with this book.  I freely admit that I have a fondness (some of course would say weakness) for small animals, and yes, I was going to write about dogs (as I sorely miss my little fox terrier who has now gone to dog heaven, which as far as I'm concerned firmly exists and is made up of a dappled shady meadow, a small pack of friendly dogs to run with, lots of tussocky nesting places, baby rabbits to chase but never quite catch, the tantalising smell of steak drifting over the grass and my pair of slippers to guard when the sun falls - and I won't hear differently) but somehow, it didn't happen. I had read Flush by Virginia Woolf, but then I tried to re-read The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna.
Now, Arto is huge in his native Finland and just as big in France. It's been translated into loads of languages and far be it from me to disagree with that literary *ahem* paper - The Mail on Sunday - all unanimously decree that Arto is le dernier cri in Finnish wit.
Oh dear.  I felt like Margo Leadbetter from The Good Life when she cries piteously for someone to explain a joke to her.  She just doesn't  get it.  And nor do I.
Vatanen is a journalst who decides that he's had enough of city life and takes off in his car when he encounters a young hare that's injured on the road.  He goes off in search of it and this turns into a road trip, complete with hare.  He meets a lot of strange and, erm, wonderful people on the way.  He ends up quitting his job, leaving his wife, giveing away his possessions and travelling Finland - taking in forest fires, priests, killer bears, war games and pagan sacrifices.
It has been described as a masterpeice of black humour, as sharp as the Arctic weather of Finland, and highly amusing.
Really? I mean, really?
OK, it's not sugary sweet (we're not talking Watership Down here) But all I can say is that foriegn humour perhaps doesn't travel. Us Brits are the master of black humour, sharp wit and the mighty understatement.
The best thing about this book is the cover, oh yes, and nothing nasty happen to the hare.  At least we don't have a recipe for pie.
A keeper? Hmmmm... I don't know, but I but I do so love the cover.  I longed to have a young hare snuggled into my jacket.  I leave you with the last picture I took of Daphne guarding my slippers, with a book in the background.  Now, that's a front cover.

1 comment:

  1. If only you could pick a book up and devine by touch alone a point in a possible future together where its seductive features have lost some of their power over you to reveal the true character lying behind it. Alas, as in real life there is no hindsight to guide, only instincts informed by a beguiling cover, a captivating name and teaser of what you could get if only you would take a chance on it.
    Richard (Auther of up and coming 'Siamese Slim and the Damselfly Princess. The ultimate story of two small animals :)