Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Old fogies

24. Mielensäpahoittaja by Tuomas Kyrö ("Upset")

The About:
The protagonist is a WW2 vet who lives in a small village in Finland. After his wife had to be taken to a nursing home because of her worsening Alzheimer's, our brave protagonist decided to have a meaning to his life: writing letters to the editor! Each chapter is a little letter to an editor of whichever magazine or newspaper strikes his fancy, and each begins with "I got so upset the other day, when..." Reasons to get upset range from discovering a sun beam in his living room to breaking his hip when he falls down the stairs (and on the second day of lying on the steps wonders if it's time to yell for help). He thinks that Valentine's Day should be replaced by "Mind your own business" day--and this he tells the world happily. After all, his friend had advised him that it's no use bottling feelings up, so he has decided to go ahead and complain. Sometimes personal details slip into his complaints, mainly about his relationship with his very modern son. Should he just face it that he's an old git who just doesn't get it?


I laughed out loud multiple times reading this, because Kyrö's usage of language is often simply delicious. He really has hopped into the boots of an old, groggy and angry man who thinks that the newer generations know nothing about music, food, movies or how to dress up. Just some of the words he uses made me giggle. And lest the book would get too formulaic, Kyrö sometimes slips in sentiments that I found myself agreeing with. Uh oh, am I getting old now, too, or are this old man's demands not so crazy after all? At the end, the protagonist turns out to be much more sympathetic than you'd think, and the reader finds that there always is a reason for people behaving the way they do. The reasons are not always necessarily great, widely-approved of reasons, but they are reasons nevertheless.


  1. I'm about half-way through this book, and for me the most delicious moments have definitely been when I've thought "oh no, I can't agree with this guy, but he absolutely makes sense here". It's a delighting read.

  2. It really is! At the same time the author manages to make fun of this particular type of a person, yet remains respectful of his ways, too.