Book review | The star of the domestic literary autumn is a monster character whose name sounds like vomit

Alexandra Salmela's modern fairy tales are set in an interesting gray area.


Alexandra Salmela: Wood. Work. 230 pp.

Is it Smaug evil? I am of course talking about the dragon that J.R.R. Tolkien created his saga.

In Tolkien's stories, humans, let alone any other race, know how to protect others or themselves from themselves. If the story were to be set in the real world, the Ring of the Rings would be the force that sets the industrial revolution in motion. Humans will no longer control its development. Tolkien would hardly be particularly enthusiastic about artificial intelligence if he were still alive.

In Tolkien's story, an ancient forest is cut down in order to participate in the war better and faster. Greed and the opportunities it brings blinds and makes you reject your previous idealism.

In The Hobbit Smaug guards the treasure by sleeping on it. A dragon is basically no harm or danger until it is awakened. Smaug is awakened by the dwarves' greed. It holds the dwarves' greatest treasure, which they believe they desperately need.

Smaug is the very being that protects the dwarves from themselves, i.e. from the industrial revolution. With Bilbo's help, the dwarves manage to steal the treasure back for themselves, but it only starts a new chain of unfortunate events.

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And how it all connects Alexandra Salmelan to the work Wood?

Domestic one of the stars of literary autumn is a monster character whose name sounds like vomit: Blöeglöek.

In Salmela's fourth novel, Blöeglöek guards the world's last tree, which is the last fading sign of nature's vitality and languishes in the dry desert. There is no water anywhere. Or at least we think so.

Blöeglöek destroys anyone who tries to reach the tree. The destruction of civilization and the birth of nature are combined allegorically.

On the other side is the Princess in her castle, who has everything and wants everything. Suddenly he realizes that he is missing a star. He has a dream where he catches a star with a tree.

The princess goes in search of the tree and the star and finds a monster protecting it. At the end of the awkward first meeting, they find that they have ended up on the same side, when the tree is threatened by some two-legged creatures dressed in skates and neckerchiefs.

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Salmelan modern fairy tales occupy an interesting gray area. They are not categorized as children's or young adult books, although they would certainly go as such. Besides, the idea that fairy tales are only for children is a strange distortion.

In any case, it is probably the smartest thing for the author and the publishing house to categorize Wood as a book for adults, because this way the book does not exclude potential readers and also invites more critics.

The approach is similar to that of another Teos publishing house author Mika Rätö. The fuel of both prose is the allegory of fairy tales, and the imagination of both creates surreal worlds. Both also support the prose with illustrations. A tree illustrated by a Slovak Martina Matlovicová.

When we are firmly detached from realism, many allegorical possibilities arise.

Salmela takes Blöeglöek interestingly towards the dragon and the criticism of the industrial revolution, when the monster gets hold of a flamethrower and uses it to attack his enemies. The monster thinks the device is so horrible that he throws it into the yeast.

The monster as a character is complex and contradictory, as are the other characters. This is Salmela's strength. There should be more of this kind of understanding in reality.

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The story, set in the future, naturally comments on climate change and man's role in destroying his own habitat. The setting is familiar through and through, but well-written, still functional and powerful. If a ysär film depicting fossil capitalism In Waterworld we were looking for land, in Salmela's book we are looking for water.

Tree juju is not actually in its plot, but in how Salmela creates his world and trusts in it. Absurd humor is perfect for the destruction of nature. Blöeglöek consults with bipedal skaters about whether the sun should be stored underground:

“Blöeglöek explained that the sacrifice was not really necessary, because the order of nature had settled into balance. Recently, the days and nights began to alternate just right, there was neither too much nor too little.”

Wood are the most charming and entertaining books I've read this fall. Immersion in its absurd and nonsensical world feels like there is still some sense in art after all.

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