Year of the Hare- Arto Paasilinna
Novel(la) in translation
While out on assignment, a journalist hits a hare with his car. This small incident becomes life-changing: he decides to quit his job, leave his wife, sell his possessions, and spend a year wandering the wilds of Finland-with the bunny as his boon companion.
Let's be frank, I wanted this to be an absolutely beautiful book. I've always wanted a hare/rabbit companion that hangs out and goes everywhere with me. And tell me, is that not the cutest cover you've seen in awhile?
Don't get me wrong, it was a good book. Well paced as a story of a man going through a midlife crisis. He completely drops out of his competitive stressful life and instead lives an idealized life as menial worker who goes from manly job to manly job.
There's an emphasis on manly jobs. This is a story of a man, and this man hangs out with nature. It's a lads book full of manual labor (and how his body is suited for it), drinking, hunting, and of course, the stereotypical annoying wife. As I am not a man, do not idealize manual labor, hate hunting, and have no annoying wife, there was really very little I could relate to at all.
Then there was the fact that every Finn he encountered was a horrible person. Everyone up in Lapland was decent but the Finns? Terrible, which kind of ruined any kind of suspension of belief I was engaged in. While I'm capable of believing that yes, a man and hare could hang out together and move from manly job to manly job, I have difficulty believing how horrible the Southerners were...and I'm pretty much a lifelong Northerner myself (obviously not of Finland but other countries).
I'm aware this is a picturesque novel (i.e. the Spanish style that is a satirical humorous story of a lower-class person surviving by his wits alá Don Quixote) but I guess the humor was so deadpan I missed it for about 2/3s of the book.
I still marked my satisfaction with an up because there's a very specific, absolutely hilarious bunch of scenes which I will not spoil for you.