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Secret Passages in a Hillside Town af Pasi…
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Secret Passages in a Hillside Town (original 2010; udgave 2018)

af Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
9910221,186 (3.16)1
In a small hillside town, Olli Suominen - publisher and discontented husband - is constantly losing umbrellas. He has also joined a film club. And Greta, an old flame, has added him on Facebook. As his life becomes more and more entangled with Greta's, and his wife and son are dragged into the aftermath of this teenage romance, Olli is forced to make a horrible choice. But does he really want to know what the secret passages are? Can he be sure that Greta is who she seems to be? And what actually happened on that summer's day long ago?… (mere)
Medlem:lucymdickinson
Titel:Secret Passages in a Hillside Town
Forfattere:Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen (Forfatter)
Info:Pushkin Press (2018), Edition: Translation, 416 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

Work Information

Secret Passages in a Hillside Town af Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (2010)

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» See also 1 mention

Engelsk (7)  Finsk (3)  Alle sprog (10)
Viser 1-5 af 10 (næste | vis alle)
I received Secret Passages in a Hillside Town from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

There were many points at which I wanted to set this book down for good. At first I thought it might be the translation that was lacking, but I'm fairly sure it's just a very odd novel. Part narrative, part dream sequence, and part guidebook, Secret Passages in a Hillside Town is certainly a journey. I couldn't wrap my mind around what was happening for much of the work, which I believe to be the intention of the author. In part, this book is a study in memory and how memory fails us, which I found somewhat compelling. However, when all is said and done, I was highly frustrated by the scattered narrative even at its end.

The fantasy element of the novel involves secret passages and M-particles, or meaningfulness particles, as expounded upon in passages from A Guide to the Cinematic Life by Greta Kara which are scattered throughout the book. I can't really tell you how they work, as the mechanisms are not explained to my satisfaction--or at all, really--in the novel.

Greta Kara, the author of the book which takes center stage within Secret Passages in a Hillside Town, is a mystery for much of the novel. To expound on her character would invite spoilers, but I'd like to note that from my perspective her character is contrived in a highly sexist manner. She is literally described as being "created for" the protagonist to love. Also--and this may just be me--the author has got to be obsessed with boobs. How many times can the protagonist mention nipples? I am a woman--and attracted to women, even--and I have never considered boobs as much as the protagonist Olli does. Calm down, sir.

I am so glad I'm finished with this book. It's over. I can live my life in peace now. ( )
  kittenelephant | Jul 29, 2021 |
A few years back I had read Jääskeläinen’s [b:The Rabbit Back Literature Society|18367594|The Rabbit Back Literature Society|Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1377234365s/18367594.jpg|3380442]. That novel had been compared to “Twin Peaks meeting the Brothers Grimm” and was a dark and cryptic work which hovered rather awkwardly between outright supernatural fiction and magical realism. I had found this ‘ambivalence’ ultimately disappointing, but the novel was intriguing enough to make me want to sample the author’s latest offering, recently translated into English by Lola Rogers.

In its initial chapters, this novel seemed quite different from its predecessor, apart from its small-town setting and “bookish” background. Indeed, it starts off as a gentle, if quirky, tale of mid-life romance. Olli Suominen, the head of a publishing company based in Jyväskylä, is going through a crisis. Book sales are not what they used to be and, as far as family-life is concerned, he seems to be growing distant from his wife and young son. Through Facebook, he gets in touch with Greta Kara, an old flame who has since become the bestselling author of an influential self-help guide to “living a cinematic life”. He somehow convinces her to issue her next book – a ‘magical’ travelogue about Jyväskylä – through his publishing house. This promises to boost Olli’s business, and amorous, prospects.

But Olli’s Facebook exchanges with Greta also rekindle memories of another group of childhood acquaintances – the three Blomroos siblings and their cousin Karri. Together with Timi, Olli’s dog, they formed a Finnish equivalent of the Famous Five. In true Enid Blyton fashion, they spent their summer holidays together, shared long, glorious, sunny days on riverside picnics and solved mysteries along the way. Typically, they also explored secret passages. And here things start to get weird, because unlike the relatively workaday secret passages in Blyton’s novels, the Toulura tunnels seem to warp reality and cause time to go completely off-kilter. Unsurprisingly, Olli’s memories of the secret passages are vague and confused, but we eventually learn that they were the theatre for shocking happenings experienced by Greta and the Tourula Five.

Whether you will enjoy the novel from this point forward will depend on how crazy you like your fiction to be. In my case, I generally prefer novels which follow an internal logic, however strange their premise. And to be honest, it was sometimes difficult to understand where this book was going . But it still hooked me to the last chapter. Or chapters, given that the novel rather puzzlingly presents us with an alternative ending – probably a nod to “alternate movie endings” which are sometimes available on certain movie DVDs.

So, how should we interpret Secret Passages? Should we take it at face value as a work of supernatural fiction? Or is this actually realist fiction, using elements of fantasy to give us a glimpse of the workings of Olli’s mind? Is the book a satire on modern life which, thanks to social media, seems to be all about living a “cinematic life” worth sharing with the world at large? Or is this an adult parody of Enid Blyton mysteries, particularly the underlying gender politics simmering below their surface? Perhaps it’s all of this, but it makes for a wild and crazy ride. ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
This book got stranger and stranger as it progressed. Interesting read though
The is a very strange book and a difficult one to review. The narrative is almost split into thirds. The first seems fairly normal and enjoyable exploration of life in a Finnish city. It is very much grounded in the place and time. Olli loses umbrellas, joins a film club and discovers that his old flame, Greta is the writer of a book that has become a Finnish sensation.

A Guide to the Cinematic Life is a book which encourages those that read it to live in a more cinematic way. There is talk about M-particles which are prevalent in magical places, and it is mentioned throughout the book but never really explained.

Olli’s film club seem to specialise in watching black and white classic movies which is stylistically where the Guide to the Cinematic Life is directing people towards. Smoking is encouraged, stolen kisses and artful deaths are all within the remit.

The second third gets odder and more surreal where Olli “remembers” and relives his childhood with kids he used to play with during his summer holidays and most importantly the secret passages. The third part just goes over the edge into just plain weird.

At its heart, this is a love story between Olli and Greta who are forced together by forces outside their control. Olli is the only character in this book who seems like a real person, all the others seem to be two-dimensional stereotypes.

The pacing was slow, and the endless dream sequences started to become a bit boring. This book has taken me months to read, and I kept on hoping that it would get better, but if anything it got worse as it went on.

This book was really well received in Finnish so maybe some of the dark comedy that is supposed to be part of this book has been lost in translation as I really didn’t get the joke. ( )
  CharlotteBurt | Feb 1, 2021 |
A few years back I had read Jääskeläinen’s [b:The Rabbit Back Literature Society|18367594|The Rabbit Back Literature Society|Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1377234365s/18367594.jpg|3380442]. That novel had been compared to “Twin Peaks meeting the Brothers Grimm” and was a dark and cryptic work which hovered rather awkwardly between outright supernatural fiction and magical realism. I had found this ‘ambivalence’ ultimately disappointing, but the novel was intriguing enough to make me want to sample the author’s latest offering, recently translated into English by Lola Rogers.

In its initial chapters, this novel seemed quite different from its predecessor, apart from its small-town setting and “bookish” background. Indeed, it starts off as a gentle, if quirky, tale of mid-life romance. Olli Suominen, the head of a publishing company based in Jyväskylä, is going through a crisis. Book sales are not what they used to be and, as far as family-life is concerned, he seems to be growing distant from his wife and young son. Through Facebook, he gets in touch with Greta Kara, an old flame who has since become the bestselling author of an influential self-help guide to “living a cinematic life”. He somehow convinces her to issue her next book – a ‘magical’ travelogue about Jyväskylä – through his publishing house. This promises to boost Olli’s business, and amorous, prospects.

But Olli’s Facebook exchanges with Greta also rekindle memories of another group of childhood acquaintances – the three Blomroos siblings and their cousin Karri. Together with Timi, Olli’s dog, they formed a Finnish equivalent of the Famous Five. In true Enid Blyton fashion, they spent their summer holidays together, shared long, glorious, sunny days on riverside picnics and solved mysteries along the way. Typically, they also explored secret passages. And here things start to get weird, because unlike the relatively workaday secret passages in Blyton’s novels, the Toulura tunnels seem to warp reality and cause time to go completely off-kilter. Unsurprisingly, Olli’s memories of the secret passages are vague and confused, but we eventually learn that they were the theatre for shocking happenings experienced by Greta and the Tourula Five.

Whether you will enjoy the novel from this point forward will depend on how crazy you like your fiction to be. In my case, I generally prefer novels which follow an internal logic, however strange their premise. And to be honest, it was sometimes difficult to understand where this book was going . But it still hooked me to the last chapter. Or chapters, given that the novel rather puzzlingly presents us with an alternative ending – probably a nod to “alternate movie endings” which are sometimes available on certain movie DVDs.

So, how should we interpret Secret Passages? Should we take it at face value as a work of supernatural fiction? Or is this actually realist fiction, using elements of fantasy to give us a glimpse of the workings of Olli’s mind? Is the book a satire on modern life which, thanks to social media, seems to be all about living a “cinematic life” worth sharing with the world at large? Or is this an adult parody of Enid Blyton mysteries, particularly the underlying gender politics simmering below their surface? Perhaps it’s all of this, but it makes for a wild and crazy ride. ( )
1 stem JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
Quirky, with interesting ideas. I especially liked the "A Guide to Living a Cinematic Life" motif. The characters were rather two-dimensional in some ways. It was an interesting read with a serpentine plot and many surprises. At the same time, the blend of literature, satire, fantasy, and humor didn't always work. I enjoyed parts of it a great deal but overall I wouldn't say it was one of the more memorable books I have read. ( )
  aseikonia | Jan 25, 2020 |
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In a small hillside town, Olli Suominen - publisher and discontented husband - is constantly losing umbrellas. He has also joined a film club. And Greta, an old flame, has added him on Facebook. As his life becomes more and more entangled with Greta's, and his wife and son are dragged into the aftermath of this teenage romance, Olli is forced to make a horrible choice. But does he really want to know what the secret passages are? Can he be sure that Greta is who she seems to be? And what actually happened on that summer's day long ago?

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