Friday, July 16, 2010

Review of UNIKIRJA

I don't think I remembered to post this before. My review from the Finnish North American Literature Association (FinNALA) by Beth Virtanen:

K. A. Laity’s Unikirja, Dream Book, is written in a pastiche of genres on a single theme, Finnishness and daily life. Laity uses poetry, prose and drama to capture Finnishness in mythic and modern contexts. In doing so, she draws on folklore, the Kalevala, the Kanteletar, and even traveling in Finland as inspiration for these wonderful stories. 
In the section focusing on the Mythic, Laity draws on Runos 3 to 5 of the Kalevala for a short story titled “Aino” in which she draws on the epic tale to focus on “women’s experiences of the world—an aspect so often missing from the original Kalevala stories’, she says. From the theme of incoming Christianity, Laity reimagines the killing of Bishop Henry as committed by Lalli and not his wife. She retells the story from the wife’s perspective as she has “to live with her husband’s crime and her own silence about the truth.” In this retelling, Laity broaches a subject central to issues of women, that of silence. In this section she also “indulges,” as she says, the Gothic as well.

The mythic is as present in the Modern tales as it is in those of the previous section, but here the settings are modern, thus allowing for a different emphasis and turn of events. In the modern section, she deals with the myth of werewolves in “Vironsusi,” asking what it would be like to be one. She explores themes of magic from the Kalevala as she creates a modern’ hiker’s response to Vipunen, the giant turned to a mountain, in the story of the same name. The invigoration of women’s allure and sensuality through a sauna ritual  is the focal point of “Raising Lempi,” and Vainämöinen’s bad luck with women the theme addressed in “Kantele.”  This section closes with a play, “Lumottu,” which means Enchanted, that places an immigrant family in the heart of myth and magic.
In this book, K. A. Laity’s efforts make Finnish mythology and folklore relevant today in ways that resonate with the modern reader. She mates myth and womanhood exquisitely. In short, her work is fabulous. The text is by Aino Press of New York. Find it at Buy it.  

Nice, eh? Be sure to stop by and see all the wonders they have at FinNALA and their literary magazine KIPPIS! (yes, I'm in one issue). I'm off at Necon, which I hope means I'm having fun.