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He has also joined a film club. And Greta, an Wonderfully knotty Hints of Let the Right One In and Haruki Murakami's elliptical early science fiction novels flavour a creepy tale about mutating books, buried secrets and ghostly encounters -- James Lovegrove Financial Times The Rabbit Back Literature Society is a lobster pot of a book And fun. But if, like me, you're still a little bit obsessed with who killed Laura Palmer, you'll love it Harper's Bazaar A playful fantasy I felt the slow pulse that guided the book; it skirts genres and stays refreshingly weird Quadrapheme Veering between infectious comedy and dark thriller, this is a beguiling read The Lady Is Jaaskelainen the new Murakami?

Answers to the editor Glasgow Herald Thrilling Shortlist Lola Rogers' admirable translation catches both the darkness and playful wit of Jaaskelainen's original Tablet It's all rather brilliant Worm Hole Deliciously dark metafiction Sydney Morning Herald A very odd but engaging book by a Finnish author with an extraordinary imagination The Westmorland Gazette. Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen, born in , is one of Finland's best-kept secrets. This is utterly silly but I suspended disbelief and went with it. In exchange, the challenger must reply as well to a question coming from the person being challenged.

Uhm, okay. What about actually chatting? Ah no, having a Game with the capital G seems cooler. We discover that there used to be a tenth member of the society, which one of the members describes as the most brilliant of them all. The guy mysteriously dies in a car accident. His notebook with his ideas, is suggested, might have been the secret source of all the book plots of the other nine members throughout their careers. I felt like he undressed all the characters in his mind, in more ways than one, and took delight in displaying that to the reader.

It felt prurient, and I was grossed out by some of the revelations. I did keep reading, because I wanted to know how it would all come together, but… I kind of regret bothering. It just never comes to anything. Reviewed for The Bibliophibian. View 1 comment. A very strange and unusual book, I did enjoy it but I'm still a bit nonplussed about what it was supposed to be about!

I am not going to lie, I am not percent sure what I think of this one. I enjoyed it but at the same time it was just a bit meh. To start off with, I would really like to say how much I do enjoy the flare that the Scandinavian countries put into their work.


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It is extremely different from the books I am used to reading and undoubtedly interesting. However, this story did suffer from a few things. While the story was there and I was enjoying it, it very much felt like the real story was hidden I am not going to lie, I am not percent sure what I think of this one. While the story was there and I was enjoying it, it very much felt like the real story was hidden from view and that you were never going to find out what it was. I felt like some of it was lazy writing.

The Game was so stupid. Not the concept of it, I can see how that would fit in with a group of writers who are suffering from various problems but the fallout of the game. Sleep for seven days because you admitted some things that you didn't want to admit? Obviously after the inclusion of the drug it became more believable. I thought it fit quite well and left a nice air of mystery.

I will always wonder if the phantom was him, and I do believe it was. If he was fixated on the notebook in life through his autism, then in a book of magical realism it makes sense that he would be fixated on it in death. In the town of Rabbit Back, strange things are happening. People have odd dreams that they seem to share.

Additional information

Books change their contents, the stories within them being rewritten at whim. A world-famous author of children's books, Laura White, once found nine children to tutor and turned them into great writers, and ever since then she's been looking for the tenth and last member of the "Rabbti Back Literature Society". Ella is a substitute teacher with beautiful lips, beautiful nipples and defective In the town of Rabbit Back, strange things are happening.

Ella is a substitute teacher with beautiful lips, beautiful nipples and defective ovaries who submits a story to the local newspaper and is discovered by Laura White, who invites her to join the Society.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society

But, alas, on the evening when Ella's about to meet the authoress herself at a winter party, Laura White gets a terrible migraine and, just as she's descending the stairs of her house, a massive indoor snowstorm blows everything away and makes her vanish. It felt as if the Marvel Cinematic Universe were being produced and directed by artsy Eastern Europeans hellbent on winning the Golden Bear or some other artsy cinema prize.

It's as if "The Age of Ultron" consisted mostly of Black Widow having soup with Bruce Banner an saying, "Look, I have nice lips, and great nipples, but do you know what? My ovaries? Not gonna make me any kids. I want to rip my flesh apart and look at what's there. And they'd have these disjointed stories about maybe a battle or something, and you'd wonder if Captain America killed one of the good guys or something.

But he hasn't killed anyone. Then, at the end, Tony Stark would walk in and say, "Do you know what? By the way, Natasha, your lips and nipples are super-nice. And the movie would end. Wham, it's art! Anyway, I'm getting distracted. The point about "The Rabbit Back Literature Society" is that it seems to have a plot, but it's mostly odd.

The focus is strange. You get the impression that it's about books changing their contents, but that's just a side thought. You get the impression it might be about paranormal creatures infesting a town, but I'm not even sure. You get the impression it might be about Ella, her lips, her ovaries, and her troubles with the world, but aside from a couple of complaints that she'll never have kids and it's devastating, she seems entirely uninterested in either her lips or her childlessness, so never mind that. You get the impression it might be about a previous tenth member of the Society who might have gotten murdered, but But by the time the mystery's partly set up, it's dismissed.

Very little adds up, so I assume this book is meant to be very literary. Four stars for the premise and the summary, which would be cool. Dropped to three for the weird style and Ella reacting to the news that some people might want to murder her like so: "She was analyzing the situation she'd somehow ended up in.

One possible definition of murder would be 'an illegal activity that causes its target to cease to exist'. One of the many murders committed annually was about to happen in Rabbit Back, and its target was Ella Milana. Two stars for passages like, "Ella had secretly undressed in front of her mirror for years. She had flirted and done calisthenics and examined her appearance critically, admiringly, hornily.

Jun 28, Nafiza rated it really liked it Shelves: source-review-books , books-i-own , read , favourites. A shout out to Lola M. Rogers who translated this book from Finnish and made it possible for it to be read in English. I love reading translated fiction as it gives me a chance to peek into cultures totally different from mine.

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Reading translated books lets me catch glimpses of the different kinds of people and societies populating this world. At least I thought so. At least, Ella Milana consoles herself, she does have really beautiful lips that curve just so. This society has nine members who are all authors of varying fame.

There one spot remaining empty in the society which is mentored by the world famous Laura White who has written Creatureville, a book series that is famous worldwide. But before Ella can be formally introduced to Laura, there is an incident and Laura disappears leaving Ella with questions and the newfound mystery of the previous tenth member.

This book is remarkably easy to read. Pages stretch into chapters until you have read a hundred pages in one sitting. I was charmed by the cadence of the language, the flow of it. Being both an aspiring writing and an academic, I found this novel to have a wealth of bits and things to ponder and analyze. This is rarer than it seems so bear with me. Interesting,too, how the book has different discussions about motherhood interspersed in a seemingly careless way throughout the narrative.

However, the book, at its heart, delves into the art of writing and maintains how savage the entire venture is. Writing is laying yourself bare sometimes literally to the world and your readers. It is an excavation into the deepest parts of your soul just so you can get new material. It is a constant struggle with debilitating insecurity. It is giving too much of yourself to a character and then realizing you have an unstable identity. Her efforts to gather information about the previous tenth member creates a mystery that needs to be solved but Ella warns the reader that being a detective is not appealing to her at all.

Jaaskelainen weaves elements of fantasy while keeping a strong hold on reality and asks questions about human nature and the art of storytelling. The book makes surprising twists and turns and the ending is that last bit of hard candy that lingers for a while in your mouth getting sweeter every time you swallow until it is finally gone.


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  • I enjoyed The Rabbit Back Literature Society immensely and recommend it to everyone who enjoys good literature. I loved the darkness of this novel. It presents terrors and wonders in a matter-of-fact way, as being contingent on reality like traffic jams or bad weather. The central mystery — the disappearance of the celebrated child author Laura White— is neither resolved nor explained by the end indeed, it is replaced by the larger mystery of her near-death experience as a child when she fell through the ice in a lake.

    In a novel full of such mysteries, it begins with Ella discovering that certain books I loved the darkness of this novel. In a novel full of such mysteries, it begins with Ella discovering that certain books at the local library have been afflicted with a mysterious condition whereby plot elements are changed. Rabbit Back is the name of the town. Here the novel takes a much darker, and decidedly more adult, turn.

    Ella is rather overwhelmed to be chosen as the missing tenth member at the same function where Laura White disappears in a blistering cloud of snow that miraculously appears indoors. This feeling is quickly replaced by curiosity, and Ella begins a quest to unravel the origins of the Society and what makes it tick. Naturally because this is a thriller , the original tenth member died under mysterious circumstances while still a child a child whom everyone else envied and resented for his overflowing genius. It is in this way that the writers of the Society find fresh material for their own books and stories.

    By the time Ella arrives on the scene, innocent and unaware, they are all longing for fresh blood. I hope I am not making this sound like a vampire novel, because it is not. It is , but it is also much else besides. In a masterful counter-challenge, Martti compels Ella to describe her body when she looks at herself naked in a mirror: the point is to convey her vulnerability and phobia of her own flesh.

    Martti himself has long succumbed to a food fetish that has left him grossly overweight and house-bound. Their journey of sexual re discovery, trying to fit their very different bodies together, is both tender and hilarious. There have been many books about writing and writers, but this has to be one of the strangest I have ever read. When Ella joins the society, all its members have long since retreated into their own private wars and petty squabbles. The irony is that they are totally oblivious to the glimpse of magic that attracts Ella to the Society in the first place.

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    I particularly liked the ending, which is a kind of resolution on one level, but it is also quite unexpectedly sad. May 12, Claire rated it liked it. Lindsay at bookboodle gave me this book. Knowing all the fantasy fiction I enjoy, she thought I might get on with the book a bit better than her:- So, did I love it? Not really. And this is a shame. Certain elements of the story are intriguing and the whole thing is wel Lindsay at bookboodle gave me this book. Certain elements of the story are intriguing and the whole thing is well-written. In fact, the blurb poses four intriguing questions; the book only answers two.

    None of the characters are particularly likeable, although some of them make up for that by being entertainingly loopy. The Literature Society had the potential to be a fascinating treasure trove of buried secrets. Another disappointment. The ending was also unsatisfying. One big mystery is wrapped up, but others remain. The author admits that he wanted to leave things open to interpretation and was opaque on purpose.

    I read it and it did help. But should you really need some sort of key to understand a book?! ARC for review - I won this through the FirstReads program and I can honestly say that, based on the description of the book, I never wanted to win one of these so badly and I was so excited to get lucky. This will be next up. OK, first, here's why I was dying to read this book The Secret History mixed with Twin Peaks in a "creepy" tale about a literary society?

    Is this book part of my dream library of books where we find that Maud Hart Lovelace secretly wrote three additional Betsy-Tacy books and Dennis Hensley writes a new Screening Party every few years? I'm sorry to say, the answer is no but if someone can write a book worthy of the praise given this one I would gladly pay extra to read it. Let me make clear, this is not a BAD book - it's well-written and shows promise, but more a case of me not being the right reader for it -- this is pure magical realism, which, unless it's Murakami or Marquez doesn't usually work for me However, if magical realism is your favorite genre you'll likely enjoy this much more than I did.

    The premise - there's a famous Finnish literary society, handpicked by children's author Laura White.

    Desperate Reader: The Rabbit Back Literature Society - Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

    It currently has nine members, and suddenly Ella is chosen as the tenth, the first new one in decades. The authors play a "Game" with each other which is much less interesting than it sounds and both the Society and Laura White have many secrets. But too many characters do too many odd things and some interesting parts are touched on the mutating books but don't really go anywhere. Again, if you are a big fan of magical realism you'll likely enjoy. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore. A creepy mystery set in the world of a secretive literary society?

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    And that beautiful cover?? Sign me up. I don't know if my expectations were too high or I was missing the point, but this book was really very middle of the road for me. It was ultimately a struggle to get through. Ella gets invited to join the Rabbit Back Literature Society, an exclusive group of ten writers invited to study with famous children's author Laura White. Members of the group play what they simply refer to as The Game, which is kind of like the most extreme form of Truth or Dare ever without the Dare option.

    There are mysterious disappearances and deaths and other secrets floating around the Society, and Ella decides to use the The Game to investigate those things. The writing is largely fine, very typical of stark Scandanavian prose, but I wasn't a big fan of the structure used here. Having Ella use The Game to get members to spill secrets left me with a deflated feeling of suspense.

    There are some supernatural elements of the book that are a little creepy but, for me, they were overshadowed by the weird use of violence and other rules of The Game for reasons that just weren't clear. I don't know I just felt like I was missing something the entire time. Didn't realise this would have elements of magical realism - shame on me as Jaaskelainen is a well known fantasy and sci-fi author in Finland.

    I loved this so much. The core plot in this is a mystery: what is the Rabbit Back Literature Society? From there, more mysteries become apparent, concerning the founder of the Society, author Laura White, the nature of The Game, suppo Didn't realise this would have elements of magical realism - shame on me as Jaaskelainen is a well known fantasy and sci-fi author in Finland.

    From there, more mysteries become apparent, concerning the founder of the Society, author Laura White, the nature of The Game, supposedly a tool for the Society's writers, and the writers themselves. But amongst those main plotlines, Jaaskelainen tackles topics like Alzheimer's, anticipatory grief, creative inspiration, literary value, infertility and the many faces of human nature. Though a mystery is at the heart of the novel, it reads more like a character examination, delving into the lives of the members of the Society and those around them.

    They are all weird, complex people, and the reader finds out just how much so whilst reading this novel. The novel in its lovely Pushkin Press edition has been translated from its original Finnish by Lola M. And how could such a book remain in circulation for nearly twenty years without anyone noticing anything strange about it? We are given quite a fascinating insight into the world of the elite in consequence.

    They pass close by each other now and then, but never look each other in the eye, never indulge in conversation. Two elements of mystery — one of which revolves around a shadowy past member whom nobody really remembers, and the other of which deals with the sudden unexplained disappearance of Laura White herself — soon come to light. Some of them she read twice, or even three times, before returning them.

    Some of them she would check out again after letting them sink in a while. Such care has been taken over the translation of The Rabbit Back Literature Society , and it flows wonderfully. The whole is compelling, and is filled with some lovely passages and ideas. There is a creative aspect to be found in The Rabbit Back Literature Society , and Jaaskalainen has woven in elements of magical realism here and there, which add a wonderful balance to the whole.

    The novel becomes darker as it goes on, and it has been so well crafted that it is a true joy to read. I love the dark humour that is peppered throughout this book and it is definitely one of the perks of this being a translated work but this also has some disadvantages. At points I feel that the writing seemed a little disconnected and although I understand that mysterious novels can get away with this, it did make this a little slow at points. I would say that some of the subject matter discussed in this novel is definitely more suited to mature readers as there is one scene of sexual violence described and although it is just a page or so, I understand that this could trigger some readers.

    The writing and plot of this novel was so full of mystery and intrigue that I managed to read The Rabbit Back Literature Society in just a few days, even with working every day. This is definitely the type of story that you need to go into knowing very little about it and see where it takes you.