A Winter Book: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson

by Tove Jansson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0954899520 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingpippiswing of Turku, Varsinais-Suomi / Egentliga Finland Finland on 8/15/2010
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6 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingpippiswing from Turku, Varsinais-Suomi / Egentliga Finland Finland on Sunday, August 15, 2010
A review from The Guardian, beautifully written and explains a bit of the background:
A woman lives alone on an island. One day, she is surprised to see a fellow resident: "it was a real live squirrel and she hadn't seen a living thing for a long time. You can't count gulls; they're always leaving; they're like wind over waves and grass." The squirrel interrupts and accentuates her intense loneliness. She hides when a boat moors near the island and three fishermen leap ashore with their rods. Another day, feeling an intense need for human interaction, she screams into her radio, but no one answers. The squirrel breaks into the house and sits at her table, but she chases it out. Finally, the squirrel steals her boat and sails away. Entirely alone, unable to escape the island or reach the town to buy more provisions, she puts more wood on the fire, lights a lamp and sits down at the kitchen table to start writing.

Fans of Tove Jansson will recognise many of her obsessions in "The Squirrel", one of 20 stories collected in this short, brittle book: strange creatures with surprising powers, islands and small boats and the sea, loneliness and introspection, the vital influence of art and the imagination. In the rest of the stories, they'll also recognise many of the characters and locations that appear, disguised or undisguised, throughout her work for adults and children.

Jansson is still best known for the Moomin series of novels, stories and picture books, written for children, but Sort Of Books are trying to change that. A couple of years ago, they reprinted The Summer Book, a brilliant portrait of a six-year-old girl spending the summer on a remote Finnish island with her grandmother. It was rapturously reviewed by Ali Smith in these pages - and became a bestseller - which may be why the publishers have asked Smith to select and introduce the stories in A Winter Book. She's chosen 20 stories from five volumes. Several have been translated into English for the first time. The result is necessarily a bit of a jumble, lacking the coherence of The Summer Book, leaping from land to sea, city to island, childhood to old age, but it's an oddly satisfying jumble. (And, like all the books from this little publisher, it's beautifully produced, packed with crisp photos of Jansson and her parents, her partner, her island and the pet monkey who makes an appearance in one of the stories.)

Having trained as an artist and worked as a cartoonist, Jansson wrote her Moomin books in her 30s and 40s, and then started writing for adults in her 50s. Moominvalley became enormously popular around the world, spawning comic strips, cartoons, museums and all kinds of unlikely merchandising opportunities. The Moomins made so much money that Jansson could buy her own island, where she spent every summer, free from the attentions of Moomin obsessives. In one of these stories, Jansson simply transcribes some of the bewildering messages that she receives from crazy fans and greedy companies, each of them wanting to grab some part of her creation for themselves. "We look forward to your valued reply soonest concerning Moomin motifs on toilet paper in pastel shades"; "Can't you draw me a Snufkin that I can have tattooed on my arm as a symbol of freedom?"

The book ends perfectly with "Taking Leave", a short, melancholy and very beautiful picture of old age. Jansson died in 2001, aged 86, and it's easy to imagine her striding energetically across her island until her old bones refused to take another step. In the story, two old women - presumably modelled on Jansson and her partner, Tuulikki Pietilä - reach the infuriating realisation that they have grown too infirm to continue spending the summer on their isolated island. Worst of all, "something unforgivable happened: I became afraid of the sea". Fury is followed by acceptance. They decide to give their house away. They pack up, leaving notes for the next occupant, explaining where to find things and how stuff works, while making sure not to explain everything too clearly for the people who will come next: "one should not underestimate their natural curiosity." Other writers might have finished the story with a description of leaving the island or looking back for the last time from the boat that takes them to the mainland, but Jansson doesn't bother with any of that. Instead, she describes an old kite that they discover on their final day while clearing out the cellar and carry into the open air. The wind snatches the kite and takes it away, up into the sky, across the sea, out of sight.

*****
I can't say I loved the whole book, but I did enjoy the atmosphere in most stories and the playful, even mischievous nature of Tove at different ages. It was intriguing to have a little glimpse to the life of a family of artists and living in the 30's and 40's. The pictures in the book are absolutely adorable and they make the stories even more real. What I most liked about the stories is the way they depict loneliness - how it is for good, how it is not something to escape but something to cherish and seek. Somehow the most lonely stories were also the most serene ones. Can't say what the reality is, but while reading the story of the geologist I couldn't help thinking that he must have been the model for Hemulen..

If you want to find out more about Klovharun island or Tove Jansson, go to www.moomin.com/tove

Journal Entry 2 by wingpippiswing at Via Post, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Released 8 yrs ago (8/31/2010 UTC) at Via Post, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

The book is on its way to another bookcrosser who wished for it!
Hope you enjoy the stories!

Journal Entry 3 by wingjudygreeneyeswing at San Diego, California USA on Monday, September 27, 2010
Thank you, thank you pippis, so nice of you to send it!! I'll let you know how I like the stories!

Journal Entry 4 by wingjudygreeneyeswing at San Diego, California USA on Saturday, January 14, 2012
I finally got around to reading this book. I love the stories -- the voice of Tove Jansson really comes through clearly in all of the tales. Some are sweet or magical, some are sad. I loved the story The Iceberg, there is some magic there in the mind of a child, and also the story "Taking Leave", which was sad but also beautiful. There was something special in each story. Thanks again for sending this to me, pippis! I'm going to share it with my sister.

Journal Entry 5 by wingjudygreeneyeswing at San Diego, California USA on Sunday, December 23, 2012
It is hard to part with this book, but I want other people to enjoy it also, so it is going by mail to Florida, to become part of booklady331's ABC book box.

Journal Entry 6 by wingjudygreeneyeswing at San Diego, California USA on Sunday, December 23, 2012

Released 6 yrs ago (12/23/2012 UTC) at San Diego, California USA

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Traveling by mail to Florida. Happy travels!!

Journal Entry 7 by wingbooklady331wing at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Thursday, December 27, 2012
Thank you, judygreeneyes, for helping to stock the ABC bookbox. Since the first box has finally serviced I will save these for the box when it returns because I don't have to restart the box. You are so generous to offer to help. There is a great variety of books so it will make the next box more exciting.

Thanks for the labels.

Journal Entry 8 by wingbooklady331wing at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Sunday, September 20, 2015
Well, it never made the box as I put it on the shelf and forgot about it. I am going to read it now and put it in the box. Thank you for being patient with me.

Journal Entry 9 by wingbooklady331wing at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Sunday, September 20, 2015
I am not a big fan of short stories. These stories seemed to be biographical. Not sure if any are or they are just how the author wrote them. My favorite was the squirrel story. Also, I loved the pictures.

Reserved for the ABC VBB that is was intended for a few years ago.

Journal Entry 10 by wingbooklady331wing at Cape Coral, Florida USA on Monday, November 30, 2015

Released 3 yrs ago (12/1/2015 UTC) at Cape Coral, Florida USA

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Enjoy! KTM RABCK for ABC VBB and also for Christmas Release 2015

Journal Entry 11 by tabby-cat-owner at Phoenix, Arizona USA on Friday, December 11, 2015
I received this book in the mail from booklady331 of Cape Coral, Florida. I chose this book from the ABC VBB organized by booklady331.

Thank you, booklady331, for this book.

Journal Entry 12 by tabby-cat-owner at Phoenix, Arizona USA on Sunday, June 17, 2018
This book has been donated to the General Literature vbb.

Journal Entry 13 by tabby-cat-owner at Phoenix, Arizona USA on Saturday, September 15, 2018
It is very special to read about life on an island in Finland and the various other locations that some of the stories take place. Most of the stories to seem to be memoirs but I actually like that type of story well. The writing style is terse but so much is conveyed in that style of writing that it seems almost poetic. The terseness of the writing style is also indicative of the author's perspective on life. She cuts to the quick and is not distracted by inessentials. I liked reading about the interactions between the author and her parents. I also liked the story "Travelling Light" as the author's frustrations with life are very understandable.

Journal Entry 14 by tabby-cat-owner at Virtual bookbox, Postal Release -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Released 6 mos ago (9/18/2018 UTC) at Virtual bookbox, Postal Release -- Controlled Releases

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

This book has been mailed to spatial of Arlington, Virginia who requested it from the General Literature Virtual Bookbox organized by bookstogive.

Journal Entry 15 by wingSpatialwing at Arlington, Virginia USA on Tuesday, October 02, 2018
Book has arrived! It probably arrived a week ago but I was out of town.
Thank you tabby-cat-owner for sending the book!
Beautiful bookmark arrived with the book along with some calendar pages with nice quotes, comics, etc.

Journal Entry 16 by wingSpatialwing at Arlington, Virginia USA on Friday, October 05, 2018
A quiet, introspective kind of book. Makes me feel thoughtful and a little sad. It's definitely A Winter Book.

The stories I liked most:
Not a single story, but bits and parts of Part I titled Snow. It has a very autobiographical feel of when the author was a little girl. I can't say that one story stuck out for me more than the others but it was moments and feelings and the way she described things that was wonderful, and poignant, sometimes childlike, and lonely, and sad. Beautiful really.

In Part III Travelling Light I enjoyed reading:
Messages Not a traditional story. It is blurbs of messages she has received over the years from fans, friends, solicitors, etc. Even though they are other people's words, Jansson found a way to bring her voice out through them in the way she arranged them and what she chose to include or not include. They are hilarious and a bit scary!

Correspondence
Another 'story' that is not a traditional story. This time the entire story is comprised of letters from a single fan from Japan. You only see one side of the story, but it is obvious that Jansson wrote to the girl. It's interesting to read the love and devotion a fan can have for someone they admire. Jansson and other famous people have such a thin rope to tread.

Journal Entry 17 by wingSpatialwing at Anthology Assortment Bookbox, Bookbox -- Controlled Releases on Monday, November 26, 2018

Released 3 mos ago (11/26/2018 UTC) at Anthology Assortment Bookbox, Bookbox -- Controlled Releases

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄

Traveling with the Anthology Assortment Bookbox.

❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄❄

Journal Entry 18 by Chicvolley99 at Denver, Colorado USA on Monday, December 03, 2018
Received in the Anthology bookbox.

Am deciding if I want to keep it or not

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