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ARTO PAASILINNA is a writer whose works have been at the top of the bestseller lists for twenty years. His books long remained unnoticed by Finland’s chronically antagonistic literary critics, but thanks to his great popularity, many of them have reassessed their opinions. In France, his books have not only proven bestsellers but also critical triumphs.
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By Janice on 11-03-17
Lost in translation
While the premise was intriguing, I was disappointed in how undeveloped Vatanen was as a character. Initially I was under the impression he must have been relatively old as he mused on the disappointments of his life. But as he gets into his adventures, it was obvious that he had to be much younger than I thought. Actually, we are never told how old he is, or much else about who he is as a person. His sojourn with his furry companion is a series of encounters in which the people he meets are the center of attention and he is the spectator. And when each encounter is over, it’s over and we move on, seemingly unaffected. If we were intended to get something out of each episode, then the message got lost in translation.
In the last 1/3 things start getting stranger, with Vatanen changing from his mild mannered self to something more erratic and darker, with no arc in the story creating the change. The ending was unfinished and just dropped off the ledge. There was enough in the relationship between man and hare to lend some gentle sweetness, and Simon Vance’s usual marvelous performance was also a great asset. I can round up to 3 stars for what is really a 2.5.
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