The Howling Miller

Arto Paasilinna, Author, Will Hobson, Translator , trans. from the Finnish into French by Anne Colin du Terrail; trans. from the Canongate $14 (284p) ISBN 978-1-84767-181-3

Gunnar Huttunen, the cranky protagonist of Paasilinna’s dreary novel, never learned to use an inside voice. Ranging north from southern Finland after WWII, the widower takes over a long-abandoned mill in Suukosi, much to the amusement of the uptight townspeople. He quickly becomes the local eccentric, renowned for, among other things, his imitations of forest creatures. Despite winning the affection of respected local Sanelma Käyrämö, Gunnar gets into trouble after going on a drunken rampage. He’s institutionalized and escapes, only to find himself persona non grata back in the village. Here, though, Paasilinna—whose work has been widely translated—loses steam as the narrative becomes a slow dirge of Gunnar’s exiled life in the woods as he gets by on dumb luck and help from Sanelma and a few sympathetic townsfolk. While, for instance, Gunnar’s daring trip to town to watch a sporting event adds excitement, the play-by-play of his life on the lam is more a whimper than a howl. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-84195-956-6
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