The Complete Stores of Leonora Carrington Introduction by K. Davis (2017. Dorothy. ISBN 978099736648)

1 star out of 5. Terrible.

When I think of all the books I’ve read, only two stand out as being as difficult to read and complete as this one. Until I Find You, a terrible novel by John Irving, ended up in the trash before I finished it. It by Stephen King, was so horrific a story (a clown murdering children? Godawful, that!), I stopped a third of the way in. This collection of weird and nonsensical imaginations from Ms. Carrington, a surrealist painter, is in the running for the worst of the lot. None of the stories made sense. They have no enlightening or redeeming value. They have no plot, no characters of note, and no cohesiveness of design. In a word, this book is a waste of time. This collection was hyped on Lit Hub. Why, I have no earthly idea. Don’t bother.

Finn by Waino W. Korpela (2012. Korpela Publishing. ISBN 978-1-937706-06-7)

On the contrary, this little memoir/poetry collection/essay on Finnish language is a hidden gem. Not perfect, you understand, but certainly, for those studying Finnish American history and immigration, a worthy addition to your library. Korpela, who passed away in 1999, wrote an epic poem outlining Finnish history and that poem, “Song of Suomi”, is the beginning place for a reader’s introduction into his reflections and thinking on Finnishness. The poem isn’t perfect: some of the stanzas and transitions are clunky and less polished. But overall, it gives a solid, quick, fast-paced introduction into Finnish history. The notes to the poem, added as an addendum, are helpful in explaining the details that are glossed over in verse.

Korpela’s discussion of Finnish linguistics and the roots of the language takes up the middle section of the book and is enlightening, if a tad bit dry.

The final section includes short stories and poems that chronicle Waino’s life as a Finnish American child growing up on a farm. This is really the highlight of the collection and I wish he had put pen to paper more often with an eye to writing fiction.

All in all, a satisfying reading experience.

3 and 1/2 stars out of 5.

Peace.

Mark

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