Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reading Between The Tremors

Amongst the chaos and uncertainty that has been quake-central Canterbury over the last week, I have managed to find enough motionless hours to stick my nose in a book. And, just this morning, I finished 'The True Deceiver' by Tove Jansson.
Swedish writer and artist Jansson (1914-2001) is best known as the creator of the Moomin stories for children. However, in her later years, Jansson also turned her talented hand to adult fiction.
'The True Deceiver' - written in 1982 when the author was 68 - is a highly addictive yet unsettling read. The two main protagnonists - Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin - have completely different views of life, ie. the overtly pratical versus the vague and artistic.
The simplicity of the writing makes the deception within it all the more unnerving. There's a recommendation on the cover from Ruth Rendell stating that '...the characters still haunt me'. For me it's their ideas, as much as the characters themselves, that are stuck in my mind. The disjointed manner that Jansson has chosen to develop them adds to their complexity. 
This is the first book I have read by Jansson. And I don't know if it's partly because of all the shaking going on around me, but it feels that my internal thought process has also gone kind of weird-funky, thanks to her take on human observation, interaction and motivation.
As Anna and Katri learn to reinvent themselves in each other's company, there's a continuous paring down of life's supposed fundamentals until not much is left at all.
I fully recommend this book, and next week will be off down to Scorpio Books to purchase 'The Summer Book' - another of Jansson's titles.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul,

    I recently discovered Tove Jansson's 'The True Deceiver' too. She leaves a lot unsaid, and I think that forces you pay attention to the dynamics between the characters. I've read 'The Summer Book' too -- you're in for a treat.