02 May 2015
Review: The Rabbit Back Literature Society
The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is all sorts of weird and wonderful. It comes across as somewhat unassuming, and its critical popularity might be a turnoff, but reconsider it with that in mind, because this is really one of the stickiest books I've read in a while.
The story basically takes place in a small Nordic town, where a children's author created a small society of 10 children to train them to write. As time went on, some became famous, others are storytellers themselves, and they remain linked, even as one of them passed early on. A new person has been added to the society, the first since its inception, and we get to see the uncovering of the society's secrets unfold as they deal with the founder's disappearance and some strange things that are happening with the actual contents of books in town.
The book feels kind of odd and convoluted at first glance, but what's impressive (especially given that this is a really solid translation from a flow standpoint) is the way the book slowly reveals itself. It's not so much a slow burn as much as a steady drip of information and ideas that really just keep things going. Furthermore, it's a strange book - you're not entirely sure where a lot of this is coming from (it actually reminds me of Belzhar in a few key ways) and that question also acts as a sort of answer along the way.
Ultimately, though, it's really more that this book does a really good job of sticking around. I finished the book a few days ago, and still want to talk to everyone about it. I handed it to a friend the evening after I read it, saying "just look at it and tell me if you think it's interesting" and she quickly read 10 pages of it because it hooked her in so fast. It's traditional while still being nontraditional, and it's one of those books that will likely continue to fly under the radar long after it should. I definitely recommend it to everyone, flaws and all - definitely one of those books.
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