The Rabbit Back Literature Society

Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen. St. Martin's, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-06192-8
Part detective story, part fantasy tale, Jaaskelainen's novel succeeds only partly in its efforts to elucidate the mysteries of literary creativity. On the night that substitute teacher Ella Amanda Milana is to be inducted as the 10th member of the elite Rabbit Back Literature Society—a prestigious writers group that has nurtured from childhood "the most important names in Finnish literature")—the group's founder, celebrated children's book author Laura White, disappears under seemingly supernatural circumstances. Induced by an offer to write a history of the notoriously secretive society, Ella begins delving into the group's past and challenging fellow members through "The Game," a truth-detecting process of stripping away the personal fictions each has come to believe in—"people dress themselves in stories" is the way one member puts it—in exchange for intimate personal information that the challenged can later use in their own fiction. In the course of her investigations, Ella uncovers evidence of a previous 10th member whose involvement with the group and premature death are shrouded in mystery. Jaaskelainen tells his tale with a variety of quirky, offbeat subplots, among them a book virus that rearranges the letters of printed texts and rewrites scenes of classic novels, a fantastical dog pack that menaces one of the group's writers, and Laura White's own bestselling Creatureville novels, whose characters sometimes seem to have achieved a life independent of the printed page. While these help to invest his insights into writers and their imaginations with a sense of the magical, their lack of explanation and resolution makes this tale read like a shaggy-dog story. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/12/2015
Release date: 01/20/2015
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-6798-7
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-908968-98-2
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MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-4330-4
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