|Marskin Keppi / Tapani Bagge|
Short stories. Male buddy comedy. Christmas.
STORY; This collection includes 6 short stories and one longer length short story. Every story features the same two characters, Koskela and the unnamed "minä" narrator. In the stories, normal, mundane events such as changing a tire and fixing a roof go from ordinary to extraordinary with lots of laughs and chuckles. Two Christmas tales feature, which are sure to give an insight into Finnish Christmas culture and traditions, while also providing entertaining reading. The longer "Marskin keppi" (Mannerheim's baton) is a mystery, action, adventure story all wrapped up in one.
Tapani Bagge is a well-known author, having written dozens of books for adults and young adults and is well known for his crime novels. This is his second selkokirja for adults, his first, Alligaattori, features the same duo as in this book.
LANGUAGE: The stories in this book are all told in first person format from the narrator's perspective. Most of the short stories are 10 pages or less and include half page and full page illustrations that aid the story. The "Marskin keppi" feature story is around 67 pages in length and is broken down into smaller chapters of 5 pages or less.
The appeal of a short story collection is that the reader can choose to read any or all of the book. While the 125 page length may be intimidating to some selkokirja readers, the 67 page length feature story alone is worth reading. Alternatively, the two Christmas stories in this collection make ideal reads around the holiday time and are short enough to be read in an evening or two. The four other short stories in this book are excellent to pick up and read over a few sittings, the perfect opportunity to improve the reader's Finnish skills and have a laugh at the same time.
A word of caution to this collection, is that the vocabulary is advanced and there may be many words in a single sentence that require looking up. This may also be followed up by paragraphs that can be read effortlessly, striking a nice balance. Unlike lower level books, where the same vocabulary words are often repeated through the book, this book uses many different words to describe similar items or situations. Based on this, I would classify this is a B2 - C level book, ideal for those already with a firm grasp of the language and looking to expand their vocabulary and comprehension skills. That being said, a B1 reader would be perfectly suited to reading individual stories from this book, though reading the book as a whole may be overly challenging.
CHARACTERS: The two stars of this book, Koskela and the "minä" narrator are lovable and laughable male buddies in their fifties, who get themselves into trouble and adventures that leave their wives shaking their heads in disbelief. "Marskin keppi" contains a wider range of side characters, all listed in the cast of characters at the beginning of the book, but for the most part, the two main characters are the star actors in this buddy comedy.
This pair may just be Finland's answer to Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK: This is an ideal short story collection to pick up and read a story here and there, without having to sit down and read a 125 page book in at a go. The Christmas stories are ideal to be read every year at holiday time and will keep the reader laughing every year again and again. The "Marskin keppi" feature story is a nice novelette ideal for upper level readers yet not overwhelming at 67 pages. This book is ideal for anyone who enjoys classic male buddy comedies (Grumpy Old Men, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, etc.) and also for the male reader. This is a great choice for the Finnish learner looking to make the leap from B2 to C level.