on May 20, 2004
Troll is both more and less than you might think, reading the 'reviews' here on Amazon.
The novel is about a photographer adopting a wild troll. In his world, trolls were discovered to be real in 1907 although encounters with them are so extremely rare that there is very little real cataloguing of habits, eating, mating, etc. Much of the book has excepts from poetry, stories, fables and well-faked scientific treatises.
The story happens in between these excepts.
The story itself is fascinating. Angel is a believable protagonist and, his gayness aside, completely sympathetic. He could be me, were I gay. If I met the troll Pessi, I'd have adopted him too.
It is quite short. I finished it in 3 days of commuting to work and I'm having some trouble getting it out of my mind. If you are looking for an odd love story, this is a good one. If you are looking for straightforward narrative or action, it may not. Sinisalo reminds me of Joyce Carol Oates in her depiction of horror in everyday life and the likability of her characters. If you are an Oates fan, you will like this very much.
on May 15, 2004
By definition, a troll is a supernatural creature from Scandinavian folklore that lives in caves or in mountains. It is stumpy, mishapen, and can be as big as a giant or a small as a dwarf. It has been known to abduct children. Trolls have made appearances in such literary works as BEOWULF, LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER. With that in mind, you should be prepared for the unexpected in this novel by the Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo. You will not be disappointed. This writer has crafted a bizarre but strangely moving love story between Mikael, nicknamed Angel, a young Finnish photographer, and a troll whom he rescues from a pack of hoodlums one midnight as the young man staggers home from a night of drinking and unrequited lust for one Martes, who says he is only looking for "good conversation." Angel takes the troll in, nurses him back to health and starts down a path from which there is no return. With each passing day, Angel finds himself becoming more hopelessly attached to the troll with the juniper-berry smell-- whom he names Pessi-- and having to hide his new housemate from his friends and neighbors. As you would expect, a novel about a love affair between a man and a troll will not have a happy ending. Even so, I was not quite ready for the explosive finale.
Ms. Sinisalo's prose is both concise and evocative: "I look him [Martes] in the eyes. His face wears a friendly, open, and understanding smile. He seems at once infinitely lovable and completely unknown. His eyes are computer icons, expressionless diagrams, with infinite wonders behind them, but only for the elect, those able to log on." The author raises questions about man's relationship with wild creatures-- how much we know or don't know about them and what they know about us. She seems to say something about the animalistic tendences that lie deeply hidden in the most civilized of us just waiting to be let loose.
Although on one level, TROLL is just a great story that you cannot stop reading, on another it asks questions about the very nature of us all.
on June 9, 2004
It's difficult to convince people that they should read this book. Begin by mentioning that it is about a gay man who adopts a troll, add that it is pretty erotic and they begin to notice things about YOU that they had never quite seen before, but yes....now that you mention it....hmmm.
This is a kinky fairytale or like a dream gone over the edge.
The protagonist is not Angel, the handsome blonde photographer, but Pessi the troll whom we can't wait to read about, can't wait to see growing and thriving. It is Pessi who rivets us to the end, with his dark presence, his quick moves, his unpredictability, his shadowlike gtace. And it is that shadow quality that might explain the mysterious ending. Cuckoo, cuckoo.
on August 4, 2005
An excellent, quick read.
Sinisalo keeps her story moving with efficiency and electricity of prose. The haunting of love, its captivity and confinement, are so eloquently explored. It is at once enchanting and horrific. I can only suggest to read this book.