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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace
The Fellowship of the Frog
Edgar Wallace
Code of Conduct (The Jani Kilian Chronicles Book 1)
Kristine Smith
A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton

The True Deceiver (New York Review Books)

The True Deceiver (New York Review Books) - Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal, Ali Smith My cousin, Diane, is always posting things about Moomins on FaceBook. It seems Moomins are some kind of mythical/cartoon creatures beloved by Finnish people. I have a vague feeling that Diane has a kid living in Finland, or perhaps he just works for a Finnish company. Anyway, I thought to read about Moomins and found that none of the Moomin-related books are available from the local library in kindle format. But, I my library did have this particular book by the Moomin author, Tove Jansson, in kindle format. The library may be closed for the month, but the kindle snagging continues unabated. Once the library reopens, I may have to break down and borrow a dead-tree book. After reading this book, I'm pretty sure there's very little relationship between what goes on in this book and Moomins.

This book is rather bleak, but then I would expect that Finland might be a bit bleak in the winter, and the action, such as it is, takes place in winter. Katri Kling lives with her brother, Mats. Mats is a bit simple; all he cares about is boats and stories about boats. He spends his evenings drawing up boat plans and his days hanging out at a boat builder's place. Sometimes they give him an odd job or two: sanding, painting, sweeping up, simple stuff that a simple man can do. Katri is stand offish and prickly, but has a reputation for shrewdness and honesty. It doesn't help that she didn't grow up in the small town where she is living and also that she has yellow eyes. So people don't like her much. She doesn't much care.

The local celebrity is Anna Aemelin, who illustrates books, but only during the summer. She paints the most detailed and faithful pictures of woodland floors, almost the real thing. But then she populates her forest floors with rabbits who grow flowers out of their pelts. Her book illustrations are wildly popular. Anna is basically a recluse who lives alone in the large old house her prosperous parents had built.

Katri has a vision that she would like to live in Anna Aemelin's house, and also find a way to get Mats a boat. So over time, Katri contrives to become Anna's housekeeper and then begins taking over Anna's business affairs. It all seems straight forward, but is it? Then too, are Anna's seemingly passive and passive-aggressive responses to Katri straight forward, or is something else going on with her?

I guess one might say this is a bit of psycho drama. It's very well written and somewhat interesting, but a bit bleak. This is probably not for people whose only interest in reading is escapism. If one reads to understand better the human condition, then this book will be worth one's time.