Who would not be tempted by this book?!
What is it?
A novel by Håkan Lindquist, first published in Sweden in 1993. Published in French in 2002 and in English (translated by the author himself) in 2010.
What is it about?
Set in the 1980s in a small town in Sweden, it’s the story of Jonas, a teenager who becomes intrigued by the story of his brother Paul, who died mysteriously the year before Jonas was born. Jonas’s attempts to find out the truth lead him to the discovery that Paul was enjoying his first homosexual relationship at the time of his death, with a Czech boy named Petr.
What can you say about this book?
First of all, I have to say, it’s a nicely produced book. The typesetting, the design, the paper, the binding—it’s all appealing. This is important, especially at a time when some people are abandoning printed books. And there’s a gorgeous photo on the front, of a stunningly beautiful young man. This publisher knows how to attract a gay clientele!
Is that what made you pick up this obscure title?
John, isn't that a bit shallow?
Okay, we'll let that go. But tell me about the writing, the story, not just the guy on the cover.
On the most basic level, I will say that I enjoyed reading this. It’s an unusual tale, and I found myself drawn in. But I found it frustrating too, because it’s almost like a sketch of a novel instead of a novel. There are so many intriguing elements that are never developed. Also, there’s very little description, and the language is basic. It reads very much like a young-adult novel. (Perhaps it's lost something in the translation.) So it left me pretty unsatisfied.
But you did enjoy it?
Yeah, I did. There's something haunting about it, and also innocent and romantic. I just think it could have been fleshed out a lot more.
What rating would you give it (using the Michelin-guide 3-star system)?:
No stars. (Just want to clarify: Any star indicates that the work in question is outstanding. The absence of a star doesn't mean it’s awful, it’s just not worth going out of your way for, however cute the boy on the front.)