PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Nipernaadi walks into people's lives (a girl's, a whole village's, the reader's) and leaves nothing in its place, the result of a goblin-like instinct for mischief and interference, as well as a misguided yearning to change the world, correct ills and bring about ecumenical prosperity and joy. But a sense of decline, of a harsher, baser realism, takes over the fairy-tale, fantasy elements as the novel progresses, and as our puckish, protean protagonist grows older and seems to reach an existential impasse - a dead-end to his escapism. Yet one should reserve judgement and be a cautious moralist and critic. This volume has a thrill in store for the persevering, as well as the power to reveal a new, exciting literary and imaginative world.
These episodes from a-year-in-the-life are good fun. Despite similar basic arcs -- a new place, a new lie, a new girl (or two), all leading to Nipernaadi eventually leaving this too behind (usually with some ... urgency) -- there are some neat variations here. The love-interests are an appealing variety -- and include some strong-willed, independent-minded ones, such as Maret ("she's wild and unapproachable, and she loves to run alone through forests and across the beaches"). At one point Nipernaadi does gain a companion, who accompanies him from one chapter to the next, but even that is a short-lived partnership: sooner or later, Nipernaadi always moves along alone... The pieces, and the sum of it, are still good fun, a leisurely warm-hearted but also sly entertainment. One might wish to get to know Nipernaadi somewhat better -- but then he is meant to be an elusive character --; in any case, he's an entertaining one throughout, and his gambols in the backwoods are enjoyable, unusual small-time adventures.