It has been a while since we read a book to inspire us, so I asked Riikka if she knew a book by a Finnish writer we could choose for this month’s Inspired by and Riikka chose: ‘Not Before Sundown’ by Johanna Sinisalo.
I read the US version of the same book, titled ‘Troll – A Love Story’ (You can read a full summary of the book in this last link!). When Riikka suggested the book, I read the description and I immediately knew that this isn’t a book I would have picked up myself. I’m not drawn to the fantasy genre at all and I had never read an adult fantasy book before. I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series… but that is as close as it gets.
Reading this book, I figured out exactly why I’m not drawn to fantasy books. I can cope with fantasy films, but I can’t cope with fantasy books, because… When it says that a creature looks part cat, part monkey and part human, my brain just freezes up like a troll bathing in sunlight.
And as the book was about this very creature, the fact that I couldn’t figure out exactly what it looked like kept bothering me until the very last page.
What I didn’t realize when we chose this book, was that I would have another disadvantage: the book is interwoven with Finnish folklore. The original title ‘Not Before Sundown’ for instance is a reference to a Finnish song. The song text is in the book, among (semi-)scientific excerpts and I had no way of knowing which parts were fantasy and which were well-known folk tales.
I’m curious to see if Riikka mentions this in her post and if maybe she saw these excerpts in another light.
Don’t be put off by my negative comments about the book. I think it’s well-written and I appreciated the set up, but it just wasn’t for me.
That said… I did have a task: I had to make something with the book in mind!
There was no way in the world that I was going to draw a troll… But fortunately I had put a couple of sticky notes in between some of the pages and there was one passage in particular that had resonated with me.
Ecke, one of the characters, thinks: ‘Odd how there can be cities and cities. Cities within cities. The dogs’ city is built up of smells. (…) Then there are different people’s cities. There’s the city of a certain kind of woman, who judges a street by the kinds of shops there are (…) An alcoholic’s city, on the other hand, consists of pubs, sausage stands, liquor stores, alleys where you can piss without being picked up for indecent behaviour (…) And he doesn’t even notice the designer boutique because it’s got no function for him, just as the fashionable lady doesn’t see that sleazy dive – it doesn’t exist for her.’
So, I started to think about my city and someone else’s city… And I started rummaging: Found this: Decided that it wasn’t pretty enough, so I created another map with Stamen: … and created this: … a double page scrapbook spread about ‘my’ Helsinki! This made sense to me, because A. it’s Finland, B. I know the way to the Karl Fazer Cafe, the railway station and a couple of the sights, but I’m oblivious to anything else that’s there and as an extra bonus: C. I was able to incorporate Thickers with a denim print.
This is important because the denim is my only reference to the book. Although in my journaling I also mention Tove Jansson… who of course is famous for books about trolls…
Have a wonderful day!