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"Popular Music From Vittula" by Mikael Niemi

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What a very unusual piece of work! We're here in the far north of Sweden, getting a very close acquaintance with Matti, a young teenage boy whose exposure to Western pop culture must come from a Finnish radio station.

This book is partly a series of tall tales, part gothic horror, and all coming-of-age story. I thoroughly enjoyed the unfamiliar setting married to the universal themes of exploration and discovery when coming of age. Additionally, this work has some exotic features which add spice, like Scandinavian folk tales, and the electrifying effect when Elvis Presley's #1 hits reach town. Laurie Thompson's translation (from the Swedish, I think) is seamless, transparent, and wonderful.

I took note, while reading this, of the question of why music should come from female reproductive parts. Because vittula, the name of the town from across the border, is a Finnish word for ... well, let's just say the boy is an adolescent.

I recommend this book very highly. It's a quick, easy-to-read, very different and diverting romp.
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