Saturday, 31 December 2016
Gisellen kuolema - Siiri Enoranta
'I didn't have anyone. I knew I could get if I wanted, and it wasn't bragging but a fact. I could get someone good kind tender who would slowly corrode me dead.'
I've had this book sitting in my bookshelf for a while and as I really loved Nokkosvallankumous (which I'll probably review when I decide to go through my favourite books again) and quite liked Surunhauras, lasinterävä, I decided to finally read it while eating the first and last gingerbread of the year. The fireplace really is doing magic to my reading.
Gisellen kuolema (The Death of Giselle) is a story about Joel and Linnea, two siblings. It's the story of Linnea, a ballet dancer who will never dance ballet again, a broken dream with nothing left. This story is mostly told through Joel's eyes, Joel who's always been distant from her sister, who's always been in the shadow and the lesser one. Suddenly Linnea returns to their broken home, Linnea who was never supposed to return, and Joel is left to be the only one who can sort of connect with her. They both need each other to give something neither of them has left.
The book is raw and poetic and emotional, and it left me with a weird sense of sadness I don't quite get. There's drugs and sex and alcohol, but there's also earnest feelings and conversations and the longing to be a child again. It's often mentioned that this book is, yes, indeed incest, but it didn't feel like as central to the book as I thought it would. More so, I felt the broken family and the need for another person to understand you to be in the forefront. The pain of losing and the fear of never having anything to lose again. Everyone has their own problems and their own means of trying to navigate through life and Joel seems to find them all repulsive even though he's not any better. Their home is extremely broken even though at first it was so difficult to point out why. Maybe it's not really anything to grasp at, or maybe it's a bit of everything, but for this book it certainly felt fitting.
As a piece of literature I felt that this book was extremely well-written. The style is very artistic and liberal and the description very earthy and Finnish and suddenly urban and wild again. The dialogue is also very believable, mostly because of the dialect and because the characters don't seem to feel the need to talk just for the sake of exposition or saying something smart. Of course, it can be left up for debate whether or not a teenage boy would actually think of all these poetic things of someone's eyes being deep wells filled goldfish swimming around restlessly, but that's what first person point-of-view literature usually gives you. I forever wish for these books to get an English translation because I've not really read anything like these books before and I can imagine people would want to. I want everyone to read them. This is easily her least fantasy-like story, but I wouldn't say the others are any less realistic because of that.
Rating-vise I'll put this nicely between Nokkosvallankumous and Surunhauras, lasinterävä at 4/5. It's really worth reading, a cohesive, beautiful story in under 150 short pages. I could read it again despite the heartbreak it gave me, and I'm sure it would reward that second read by unravelling something within its pages I didn't understand before.
Happy New Year, by the way. I took a bit of an accidental head-start to reading Finnish things but I'll try and keep at it next year!
PS. I accidentally somehow ordered the two Siiri Enoranta's books I didn't yet have online halfway through writing this. So expect me to review those as soon as I feel like I've survived reading this one!