Recommended: Leena Krohn – Collected Fiction

If it were possible for a writer to be a major influence in your life in reverse chronological order, then I would say without a doubt that Leena Krohn is now one of my major influences, though I never heard of or read her before this past week. I think she would be 0kay with the concept. Her writing is a bright piece of a puzzle that’s been forming in my mind like a personal mandala over a period of decades, sitting alongside the Stanislaw Lem of Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, the Italo Calvino of Cosmicomics, the Macedonio Fernandez of The Novel of Eterna, the Cesar Aira of How I Became a Nun, the Julio Cortazar of Cronopios and Famas,and on down the line of the great absurdist/existentialist/philosophical/sci-fi-ish/masterful fiction writers that have every now and then burst upon my imaginary world and dazzled it with all-new impeccable fireworks. All of them I feel would be comfortable inside each others’ pages.

The Collection Fiction is packed full of treasures, novels and stories all in small byte-size pieces that add up to a polynomial of their wordcount. You could easily mistake it for one work altogether written over many years that’s sole intent is to open a window into a fascinating soul. A book is like a mirror, Georg Christoph once said, but some books are more translucent than others, and allow a depth perception in more dimensions than the visible.

In ‘Hakan and the x-creatures’, one of my favorite bits, Krohn describes how creatures in higher-dimensional spaces (say five, seven or even thirty-five dimensions) can know everything about those in the lower orders, but we lower ones can not even imagine them, yet they are certainly there, always present, never perceived. Throughout this particular novel (Pereat Mundis) an online advice counselor interacts with a man suffering from “eschatophobia” – the fear of the end of the world. The client’s communications are full of the possible end-time scenarios, while the counselor responds with trite advice about attending to one’s love life or perhaps volunteering in some do-gooder organization. They talk right past each other and neither takes notice of the other. It’s as infuriating and hilarious as any online comments section. I’m especially enjoying how she uses the same character (Hakan) for multiple characters – now he’s a hybrid human/chimp/wolf/goat, now he’s suffering from rapid aging syndrome, now he’s the eschatophobic client, now he’s a customer service rep for a cryogenics company – and why not? All the Hakans are wonderful!

These stories, along with their inventive playfulness and serious insights, are also beautifully written, charming and disarming. They make me happy and at the same time make me wish ‘if only I could do something like this’, wouldn’t that be great?

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