Thursday, July 09, 2009

Fiction: A Pathless Land by Robin Porecky

It wasn’t until I was well into A Pathless Land (Austin & MacAuley) that I realized I’d never before read a novel set in Finland. And with the cultural smugness of my kind, the book brought me to some conclusions. I will acknowledge that it is possible that they are wrong but, here they are in any case: Finland is dark, cold and is scored by a fold of violence. Fins are hardy, hearty and capable of that same violent edge. A Pathless Land does not say these things, but it implies them, or such was my reading. It sketches the shape of a dark and lonely land and a great journey undertaken with high hopes and few other provisions, at least not of the kind that will prove of any use.

A Pathless Land is Robin Porecky’s debut novel. His bio material is sketchy enough to make me suspect the persona might be an alias: “Robin Porecky (pronounced Poretzki) is of Polish origin, but was born and brought up in England. He now works in northern Sweden as a knife-maker.”

So we are to believe that A Pathless Land is a Swedish knife-maker’s debut novel? Yet the book is ethereal enough and -- in a dark and experimental way -- skilled enough to make me think it could be the work of a better known writer. In either case, it’s a worthwhile introduction to a cold, dark land.

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