Moomin creator's rare memoir back in print after 40 years


#1

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#2

Just be sure to read them yourself first if you intend to hand them to little children.
If I remember correctly, the first books have Moomin try suicide by drowning, having hangover etc...


#3

Forget the various blanded-out anime versions

They are at least beloved in Japan...I'm not sure why they aren't more popular in the US, unless it is just a general sign of our lack of good character.


[In Okinawa]

I grew up on these, and many other things, but the Moomintrolls still stick with me, and whenever I'm at my parents house for a while I'll dig one or two out. I also bought a bunch of the newspaper strip collections recently: they're often reformulations of the books, but slightly more tilted to adult humor (not adult humor).


#4

Is that in the books or the comics?


#5

It's really not all that bad, unless you're one of those hysterical "protect my child from anything that looks like real life" Apache gunship grade parents.

http://carl.pappenheim.net/d/1169

Moomin stories have genuine peril, but it's cartoon peril. Will Moomin survive being up a tree during the flood, all alone in the dark and cold after his entire family have been washed away? Yes, of course he will. And he'll find his family. But that doesn't mean every step of the journey has to be sanitised, Bowdlerised and uninteresting.


#6

Compared to the standard-issue British "watch the bunnies die, drowning in rivulets of blood and latin quotations" childhood, Moomin is a media marshmallow.


#7

Watership Down I'll give you but Gene Wilder's tunnel of bad-acid chocolate river wasn't our fault, and neither was Bambi. We've all got innocence blood on our hands. So to speak.


#8

That sounds suspiciously like the parents who freaked out about Captain Haddock being a drunk, totally missing that it was shown to be a bad thing.


#9

Comics, Beschizza wrote "books" but the link pointed to the comics...


#10

Moomins and the Great Flood, which comes in the series of original books before Comet in Moominland is hard to get as well.

An absolutely brilliant set of books. There's never been anything like them. Especially the last book where one of the fans of the previous books sort of wanders into Moomin Valley and learns to use the fantasy world as a launching pad into and not a refuge from the real world. And for all that they're weird little Finnish trolls the Moomins in the books are a very realistic and heartwarming family. For example, Moomin Papa goes completely off his rocker during his mid-life crisis and Moomin Mama, while showing signs of the stress of being the sane one who has to keep things going, is a model of love and support.

The arc of the series, from super-happy pixie-land to growing up, follows the arc of the author's life: from finding True Love to watching her lover die.


#11

Oh, and one of those weird polish stop-motions has been restored as a 3D movie. Don't know how good it is but the idea sounds trippy.


#12

Oh. These are the original books. The comic strip came later and was largely aimed at adults. I wouldn't even call that PG-rated, but much of the humor would be lost on a kid, and they might find it a bit tedious.


#13

They are, for sure. My second cousin's wife is Japanese, and this is a picture I took of the toothpaste that their sons use:

Edit:
Also, I only ever even knew about the books, of which I've read three. I'll have to do some research!


#14

I may be in a small minority of BoingBoing readers for whom this is both and newsworthy and exciting.

I don't think I could hold her The Summer Book in higher regard. I found it by accident, bought it on a whim wondering what the author of Moomin would have to say to adults.

Oh happy impulse! Sometimes you win the lottery.

Its language is direct, it is plain spoken and in no way fussy, and it is structured in highly-digestible somewhat autonomous chapters. Yet is pervaded by a preternatural lyricism, quietude, and profound beauty.

The only work I can think of to compare it to is Bruce Chatwin's On the Black Hill, though they share only some notes in the chord.

Superficially The Summer Book is a simple, quiet, almost plotless account of a summer (more than one? It's a bit ambiguous) spent on an island by a young girl (7 perhaps), her grandmother, and the girl's all but invisible and absent father.

But the beneath the surface it skirts magic realism and the whole quietly revolves around the question of death and mortality, without ever being morbid or even melancholy. The center of the book is the girl's absent mother, who is mentioned at most a couple of times, so much in passing that the secret of the whole book -- that she has just died, and in their various ways each family member is coming to terms with that -- could easily be missed.

The long light of Scandanavian summer, the humor, the poetry of things and life, and sudden incisive insights of each character into the others... all of these make the book about life as the answer to those questions.

So very very good and so unique. Quiet, slight, fragile -- I'm still in its thrall...


#15

I'll have to look it up.


#16

The anime is still pretty good.


#17

Moomin?


#18

Ah, the mumi-trolls, I still have nightmares


#19

The stop-motion version creeped the crap out of me as a kid. The anime version sucks.


#20

As noted, the books are all great, but the last two in the series really do dip into more somber terrain, so know what you're getting into before handing them to your kids. I also find Moomimpappa at Sea slightly annoying because it has so many of the characters disappear without explanation, particularly the Snork Maiden.

And there's a 2008 movie as well, Moomin & Midsummer Madness, which, from what I've seen, does a pretty good job of adapting that book.