Part Seven of my real-time review of
THE COLLECTED FICTION OF LEENA KROHN
CHEEKY FRAWG 2015
Foreword by Jeff VanderMeer
Part Six (THE PELICAN’S NEW CLOTHES) of my review of this book HERE.
Links to all parts here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/leena-krohn/
When I review The Short Stories and Excerpts, my comments will be found in the thought stream below or by clicking on this post’s title above
A selection from UMBRA 1990
Translated by Herbert Lomas
THE PARADOX ARCHIVE
UMBRA reminds me of Håkan’s doctor from PEREAT Mundus. He collects paradoxes and addresses a ur-paradox, infinity, in interface, serendipitously brought to him, with an AI man and his fear. But how can an AI have fear with all his other infinititudes of not having body and soul? Because he also has a harmonium and a harmonium (as well as a piano) features in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle that wasn’t petite nor was it solennelle!
Mind-stretching stuff. Zeno’s paradox ever halfway in towards the end of this text.
Three from ‘Mathematical Creatures, Or Shared Dreams’ 1992
GORGONOIDS (translated by Hildi Hawkins)
“The gorgonoid is merely and exclusively what it looks like — as far as we know.”
This mathematical, arguably leather-like encased, digital creature, with and without free will, or thinking it has free will, is, for me, what some have called a drogulus (like the Prott), and arguably half-related to the assumed quasi-motivational nature of Grandpa Raft in a story I reviewed earlier today HERE. This becomes specially interesting when the narrator in the Krohn compares her own life with that of the gorgonoid.
THE LORD OF MY DEATH (translated by Vivii Hyvönen)
“He was the prey of my gaze.”
This is an astonishing Horror Story. I don’t think I have ever read such revulsion about glimpsing someone intrinsically inimical to one’s paranoiac-eschatological eyes, this woman narrator glimpsing such a man among the crowds at a railway station. Her subsequent internal speculations about and extrapolations from sight of this stranger are all-consuming. Should be anthologised.
LUCILIA ILLUSTRIS (translated by Vivii Hyvönen)
“It was the sound of decomposition, which is the sound of life in death.”
Decomposition (like Sibelius’s Silence?) rather than composition, intriguing…
This is another powerful story, a narrative by a forensic expert (and seems to be a forerunner of those now popular cold and taciturn Scandinavian detective films that populate these days our Saturday night screens in UK)…
“On the wall of the ladies’ room someone had written in a swift, sketchy hand: ‘Time is nature’s way of preventing everything from happening at once.'”
From Baudelaire to the working of insects upon bodies (which shows Tainaron in a new seeping light) and all manner of considerations of the process of decay and murder and the soul / spirit and death and body.
“Nothing as lifeless as that can ever have been alive.”
Significantly and coincidentally, I just read and reviewed about an hour ago this where it says “the soul is in the bones.”
“The spirit is like the queen of an anthill.”
A selection from DREAMDEATH (2004)
Translated by Hildi Hawkins
TO SLEEP, TO DIE
“Before the ‘event’, one could also spend time in Dreamdeath’s well-equipped mediatheque, or, if one was still sufficiently hungry, glance at the admirably long menu of a Bykovian, Kungho, Tainaronian or even Lastrupian restaurant.”
An enticing euthanasiac menu of bespoke deaths.
FEAR OF THE DARK
A theme and varIations on the eponymous subject as well as on Lucia’s darkness-inducer occupation of helping others with anaesthetic remedy as well as easy eschatological escape, even cryology’s shaky promise.
FIT AND UNFIT FOR DEATH
“Lucia called Schopenhauerian those who said, ‘Ever since I was a child, I have known that non-existence is better than existence.'”
Ligottian Lucia as Aunty-Natalism, as we follow her at Dreamdeath, almost a whistleblower or undercover agent, despite or because of her care for her customers’ wishes, or what she interpreted as their wishes about dreamdying. And why the depressed or demented excluded?
But the use of the word dream as a prefix remains mysterious. Euthanasia and suicide as gifts of a dream, from which we can wake up? Perhaps Lucia is dreaming, too?
The right to die or the right to dream? Life itself goes on, meanwhile, full of fiction and truth, a book like this one for the head to house, or a book like this one to house the head?
A selection from THE BEE PAVILION 2006
Translated by Anselm Hollo
“I may well be the only one who referred to the building as The Bee Pavilion. Why?”
I think this labyrinth of gestalt real-time reviews of hyper-imaginative literature is a sort of Bee Pavilion in its own way. And I should join one of its constituent hives: The Fluctuating Reality Club judging by its propensities. The other clubs and societies that use this building, replacing the mentally ill patients of yore, are also fascinating to hear about. The structure and genius loci of the building itself and its history are very evocatively conveyed here, too.
“At the Fluctuating Reality Club, I could have told a story about my trip to London,…”
The narrator lives on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, and from there tells us of this London man who reminds me of not so much Henderson the Pelican man but of the phenomenon of such men, a sort of strobing of vision between non-human and human.
THE THREE BUDDHAS
“Under this town lies another town.
Inside this earth is another sun.”
For perhaps unobvious reasons, that couplet means a lot to me,
And probably the most striking description of a Japanese tremor you will meet in literature.
A tale of travels and telling souvenirs the narrator gives The Fluctuating Reality Club.
And I do not give my brief reaction each day since I started this book for its own sake or to add or subtract anything to or from the book, but simply to record my rite of passage through it. To say I was there.
Four from FALSE WINDOW 2009
Translated by Leena Likitalo
“I combine mathematics, horror, and beauty in my science-art in a unique way.”
Metamaatti. A determinist, too. Murders by dint of mathematics? Or of triangulative dreamcatchers like this review? This amazing stuff. Needs rereading, I guess.
Real-time reviews versus Metamaatti.
” — I beg your pardon? A thousand pages! How vast is the whole book! I asked, confused.
— Thirty-two trillion pages, he replied as if he really were serious.”
I thought at first this might be the BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer … But, no, and this is indeed possibly the oddest discrete story you are ever likely to read. The narrator who stays in a tank of brine has a salesman visit selling a book containing photographs of children, some hinted at as naked, some weirdly disfigured, all of whom turning out to be the narrator’s own children that he COULD have had with his wife, and one of them in fact is his real daughter. I could go on, with the fascinating extrapolations from this scenario. It is probably the most remarkable few pages I have ever read. Should anyone get this far into Leena Krohn’s turquoise tome (of rival size to the one being sold), they will discover that for themselves.
FILEMON OR THE WOODEN MAN
“…and I started to doubt my own disbelief.”
As we all do when reading this remarkable section of a man poignantly seeking advice from the tank’s narrator, when joining him in the tank. You see, the man seeking advice is slowly turning into a tree. Or is he? Is he mocking the narrator in the tank? I sense turning into a tree is a thing to envy, but maybe it isn’t as good as it sounds. The description of this transformation needs to be read to be believed.
THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT AND OTHER STRANGERS
” — My spouse was a businessman, who tried to sell dated technology: personal weather stations and self-illuminating cellphone covers.”
The woman comes to the narrator in the tank with marital problems instigated by emails from her husband’s supposed lover. Very strange, not forgetting the reference to the Magic Flute. Perhaps the narrator in the tank is the erstwhile pelican?
A selection from HOTEL SAPIENS 2012
Translated by Hildi Hawkins
ME AND MY SHADOW
“I’m inclined to think that sooner or later I will fade and become less distinct so that when my time is over, I will no longer be distinguishable from my surroundings.”
A perfect analogy here as an interlocutory exchange of self as body and shadow, as I already experience this stage of life’s attenuation. A fitting penultimate prose coda to this book, the onset of the Silence of Sibelius. Or the pelicanised person about to enter its flight. Leaving the massed insects that densely make up one’s shadow left behind, if one can but see it once you as the shadow’s caster have gone.
FINAL APPEARANCE 2014
Translated by Eva Buchwald
“He had hoped to articulate the silence.”
A writer’s engagement to talk to his audience and sign his books for them, one that turns out to be a nightmare where people who once knew him turn up… A writer called E.
A journey just for the car’s petrol to be paid and no other remuneration, if he can wait long enough for them to pay it to him. E flies off, a petrel, not a pelican, I guess.
Poignant and eventually wordless…
This book has been one of those not brought-up-short but brought-up-long-by-reading-landmarks that you sometimes gradually meet and appreciate in passing life, neutrally passionate with its SF wings, large and small.
My gestalt real-time reviews are always and only upon the fiction in any book. I shall now read the non-fiction foreword and appendix for the first time, sure that they will give me more food for thought. I do notice, however, that at the end of the book there is also a Krohn poem, translated by Bethany Fox. ‘Would I believe my eyes’ it is called, and like most poems worthy of attention, something to read and then put aside to read again later, except for one quote to make today:
“Particles oscillate in strings.”
A sentence for this whole book.
“‘You don’t look like a crone,’ he told her.
‘To each her crone,’ she said.”
(A quote from another book I happened to read and review yesterday HERE.)
So ends a daily real-time review I started HERE in December 2015.
My reference to Sibelius at the end of my review of THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION:
All parts of this review:
https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/short-stories-and-excerpts-from-larger-works-leena-krohn/ (this one)