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Customer Review

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about literature makes you forget you are reading = great lit!, 18 Nov. 2013
This review is from: The Rabbit Back Literature Society (C-Format Trade Paperback) (Paperback)
In the end, it all comes down to the return of Emperor Rat. But in the meantime, why not amuse, more so even challenge yourself with the puzzle that is THE RABBIT BACK LITERATURE SOCIETY?

The product of author Pasi Jääskeläinen's multi-faceted mind, TRBLS is a meditation on the author's lifelong obsession with vampires; at least the writerly kind, who, as a species, are expert in the ways of these mythical, blood-sucking fiends; or, as one of the characters in a novel written by Martti Winter (one of the main characters in TRBLS) puts it, "the crocodiles in the river."

Chief among these apex predators is world-renowned author Laura White, who started the Rabbit Back Literature Society circa 1970 for seemingly altruistic reasons; wherein the children she had chosen to mentor and guide into prosperous writing careers could hone their skills and blossom in a communal greenhouse of her own making. But, midway through TRBLS, the question emerges whether these children were Laura White's progeny or her prey...

Enter Ella Milana, a substitute literature teacher at Rabbit Back high school, who gets embroiled in the mystery of Laura White and her society upon the discovery of a rogue copy of the novel CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, wherein certain critical events have been preposterously altered.

"...the criminal Raskolnikov was abruptly slain in the middle of the street. Sonya, the hooker with the heart of gold, shot him through the heart."

Spurred by this anomaly, Milana, a girl who never lost her fascination with the piecing together of puzzles, digs deep down the rabbit hole at the core of TRBLS. Milana, on the merits of a story published in the local supplement, is invited to become the tenth member of the Society, ramping up the personal conflict within her between the puzzle solver and the girl who aspires to fame through writing fiction. Owing to Jääskeläinen's skill as a storyteller, this convenient plot point feels organic and inevitable. What ensues is, not only a touch of hilarity, but the unraveling of the mystery as Milana (from the unique position of a relative outsider on the inside and an insider with an out) doggedly keeps the pieces falling into place.

TRBLS is a novel about big questions that have been jabbing us in the cerebellum for thousands of years: the meaning of life, death, the existence of God ... and how we as humans rarely ever truly discuss and debate these ideas, concepts and ultimate truths, instead opting for the small talk and quotidian prattle that sums up our day-to-day interactions. What saves it from bogging down in a philosophical morass of college text book proportions are the wonderful characters who people it. You prick them, (or invoke Rule 21) and they bleed. They act their parts upon the page so naturally we as readers forget they are literary constructs, and the entertainment keeps us turning.

REVIEWER'S NOTE: This review would be woefully incomplete without mention of Lola Rogers, who translated THE RABBIT BACK LITERATURE SOCIETY into English from the original Finnish. Whatever may have been lost in the metamorphosis from one language to the other is inconsequential to the fact of its transformation into an amazing English-language book.

REVIEW ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT tqrstories.com
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