Tyler Jones's Reviews > The Howling Miller

The Howling Miller by Arto Paasilinna
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: scandinavian-literature
Read in January, 2009

With the recent translation of The Howling Miller, the English speaking world at last can read the work of Finland's most important novelist, Arto Paasilinna. Although one other book, The Year of the Hare, had previously been translated, only The Howling Miller is easily available to any North American.

Gunnar Huttunen, ex-Finnish soldier of the recent Second World War, wants nothing more than to establish himself once again as a miller in northern part of the country. Buying a dilapidated old mill, Huttunen works hard to restore it to working condition again.

But there is something different about Huttunen- his brain works a little strangely. He is prone to long periods of sullenness punctuated by periods of impulsive behavior. He imitates the beasts of the forest and some nights he can not help but howl with all his might. Huttunen's behavior upsets and worries the citizens of his provincial town and soon several prominent and respectable townsfolk set out to have the Miller institutionalized. But is Huttunen really crazy? Is he really a threat?

The themes addressed in The Howling Miller are common. What is not common (at least in the English Novel tradition) is the style and structure with which the story is told. The plot is tight and compulsive. The tone is naive, resembling a folktale, yet it is undeniably modern - particularly in the ending that soars off into fabulism.

Perhaps in such cynical times as those we live in, it is important for us to read such an unapologetically sincere stories such as this - Stories that do not promote any particular ideology other than that of caring about an individuals who do not conform into our comfortable notions of civility.

1 like · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Howling Miller.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.