Books read in September 2013

JagannathKarin Tidbeck: Jagannath.

Many of these stories are translated from the collection Vem är Arvid Pekon? and it was a pleasure to read them again. The ones that were new for me were generally longer but also very varied in theme and style. In “Reindeer Mountain” a sister disappears in a typical Swedish wilderness, and “Cloudberry Jam” also takes place in the mountains in northern Sweden, where a carrot, reminding of a mandrake root, is turned into a conscious being. The story “Pyret” about a Nordic cryptid is written as a scientific report, whereas “Augusta Prima”, dealing with time, has a Victorian air. In the final two stories, “Aunts” and “Jagannath”, strange biological phenomena are anthropomorphized resulting in fascinating allegories. It is not surprising that these brilliant fantasy stories with a Nordic character have been widely praised.

MartradMia Franck: Martrådar (Mare Threads).

This well-written Finland-Swedish fantasy is based on the idea that nightmares may be caused by another person, and the story leads back to what happened in the small town many centuries ago. It is also a story about being young in a small town, to be mobbed, raped, outcast and suicidal, and what this may lead to in the community. I found the story gripping and believable, although of course the supernatural elements had to be accepted by “suspension of disbelief”.

 

Father-ThingPhilip K. Dick: The Father-Thing.

The third volume of Dick’s wonderful short stories, mixing paranoia and humour and always saying very much about how human beings live and treat each other.

 

 

SvultenHannele Mikaela Taivassalo: Svulten (Starved).

Another Finland-Swedish fantasy, this one with the more classic theme of a female vampire, who is taking revenge on a line of fathers and sons the first of which had abandoned her. The language is excellent, a real pleasure to read, and the descriptions of Helsinki make you feel that you are there. There is also a Swedish historical interest since the lover was involved in the murder of King Gustav III and a part of the story takes place in the castle of Huvudsta where the murder was planned. 

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