Finished - Thoughts (Spoilers Ahead)

For discussion of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel X - den sista platsen
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danielmann861
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:23 pm

Finished - Thoughts (Spoilers Ahead)

Post by danielmann861 » Sun Jul 18, 2021 7:40 am

I'll try to keep it vague and not spoil too much for those who don't want to know anything before reading...TURN BACK NOW!

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Holy fucking hell, what a trip! That pay off was worth it! I think I'll say this is my favourite of the three books by far. That was nothing short of compelling the entire way through.

I get it! I get how the field came to be! I understand who X is! X's backstory is completely and utterly horrifying. But X's final payback is pretty amazing. I'll say that much. The Peter Himmelstrand connection is equally horrifying when revealed.

There are still questions I have about the field in general. What exactly were the white beings is a big question? My assumption is that they are demons based on the backstory and what Svante was trying to bring about with the little boy. I have to assume they are demons or at least representations of the demons that Svante was trying to bring about and Sigge (or the Black Tiger) remains the boys protector in that world...hence becoming Lennart and Olof's protector as well from the bad things that exist in the field he created.

Also, Steffan, Carina and their little boy did actually return to the real world. Good to get some closure on their story as I thought their story was one of the sadder ones in I Am Behind You.

Still kind of curious as to what became of Molly from I Am Behind You though.

As for Tommy T and Linus. I really liked Tommy T and was absolutely engrossed with his sexless relationship with the prostitute Anita. Also, Linus is kind of a sad story to me. I felt for Linus to begin with but that pity took a turn the more corrupt he became. Especially regarding Kassandra. I know it was kind of a him or her moment, but still, it was a sad tale to watch that unfold as his friendships become more and more fractured the deeper he gets into this sordid plot.

All in all, I loved this book. This book grabbed me by the throat and didn't let me go for two days straight. On the one hand, it's a captivating Nordic crime thriller meets John's typical twisted world of the other. As has been the case with everything he has written...it's all about the ordinary coming into contact with the other. And this is right up there with some of his best works, I feel.

A fascinating conclusion to the trilogy. Equally sad, fascinating and horrific at the same time. The puzzle pieces all came together and I was left quite satisfied. I think this might be my personal favourite of this trilogy....although, I did really like I Am Behind You as well.

I'm not over exaggerating. I think this might be in my top three of all the books he has written thus far. Let the Right One In, Little Star and I Am The Tiger sit high on that list for me.

Thanks John for yet another compelling journey into the world of the other!

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Siggdalos
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Re: Finished - Thoughts (Spoilers Ahead)

Post by Siggdalos » Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:14 pm

It's been fun reading your perspective on these. IATT became my second favorite of his novels after I first read it over a year ago, but since then my liking of it has dimmed somewhat. (My top four at the moment are LTROI, Harbour, The Kindness, and then IATT.) I think my initial gushing over it was mostly due to the satisfaction of finding out the answers to so many mysteries from the first two books, plus the ending which left me stunned (in a good way). I'll definitely reread the whole trilogy at some point, probably in time for when he releases the future anthology containing Sigge (the short story which he claims will resolve the last remaining mysteries), so I'll see if I change my opinion on it then.
danielmann861 wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 7:40 am
What exactly were the white beings is a big question? My assumption is that they are demons based on the backstory and what Svante was trying to bring about with the little boy. I have to assume they are demons or at least representations of the demons that Svante was trying to bring about and Sigge (or the Black Tiger) remains the boys protector in that world...hence becoming Lennart and Olof's protector as well from the bad things that exist in the field he created.
Like I said, it's been a long time since I read the trilogy, but based on what I remember from it and from John's notes in Fail Again, Fail Better, I think identifying them as demons is a bit too simplistic. My impression is that they're a kind of symbiont or parasite that naturally arose from the Field and/or the primordial darkness in which X created it, and that they play some kind of role in the Field's blood-based metabolism. I agree that it's overall unclear what their purpose is.
danielmann861 wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 7:40 am
Still kind of curious as to what became of Molly from I Am Behind You though.
My understanding is that she became one of the white ones. The person that Molly was no longer exists; she/it is simply one of them now.

I also wanted to address some points from the other thread you made:
danielmann861 wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 4:40 am
-- Still curious about X. Originally I thought it may have been the boy fictional John met in the woods in I Always Find You but the timelines don't really match up...but I still believe that boy has something to do with all of this and I'm hungry for answers.
X is the boy John met, yes. I don't remember the timeline discrepancy you mention; what are you referring to, specifically? Either way, JAL has slightly messed up with dates and timelines before (like how, in the same book, he places the Bathhouse Massacre in 1982 instead of 1981), but X and the boy are still clearly intended to be the same.
danielmann861 wrote:
Sun Jul 18, 2021 4:40 am
-- my big HOLY F'N SHIT moment of the book -- The 1982 massacre at the Blackeberg Bath house is briefly mentioned...meaning this is all taking place in the same world as Let the Right One In :o :o I was not expecting that to be referenced...but holy shit, this is taking place in the same world as LTROI. Correct me if I'm wrong, but none of his other books have actually ever mentioned it, right? Handling the Undead, Harbour, Little Star I refer to mostly. I can't remember them ever mentioning it. So I was totally unprepared to find out this story is taking place in the same world as LTROI.

Which only leads me to further questions...considering John is the protagonist of I Always Find You and even mentions LTROI in some form. The levels of meta are fucking with me right now. :D :lol: Maybe I should re-read I Always Find You after this.
Yes, I was pretty excited by that as well. There is one other story of his that explicitly references the Bathhouse Massacre: Vertical Village, one of the short stories in Paper Walls/Let the Old Dreams Die. The story Majken in the same anthology also features what may or may not be a cameo from Oskar, but that one's purely speculation on my part. The "Eliverse" was discussed a bit in this thread in the LTROI subforum.

The meta weirdness that arises from having John and his work of fiction LTROI exist in a universe where O&E also exist and the events of the book actually happened is something I personally find difficult to reconcile in my head. It's strange to imagine a fictional version of 12-year-old John living on Ibsengatan with his mother, being tormented by three bullies, and meeting X in the woods while dreaming about having a vampire friend in the same world where 12-year-old Oskar (who is in essence also a fictional version of John) also lives on Ibsengatan with his mother, is tormented by three very similar bullies with very similar names, and ends up actually getting a vampire friend.

Of course, it's important to mention that the fictional John is a few years older than both the real John and Oskar. The real John and Oskar were born in 1968, whereas the fictional John was born in 1965 (I think, based on I Always Find You's opening where he says he was 19 in September 1985; I don't remember if his birth date is specified later in the book). This means that the fictional John would have been 12 years old and met X several years prior to Oskar turning 12 and Eli and Håkan moving to Blackeberg.

More importantly, however, the fictional John claims in IAFY that his inspiration for making up Eli and writing LTROI (along with other characters like the Fisher in Handling the Undead and Simon in Harbour) was the events he experienced on the Field, with no mention of any real Eli existing or any real Bathhouse Massacre ever taking place.

IAFY's fictional John is indirectly mentioned twice by characters in IATT, so he does evidently exist in IATT's version of events as well, but perhaps one of the two is a slightly unreliable description of events and they shouldn't be taken as both being equally true in every regard.

The short explanation for all of this, of course, is that John intended IATT's references to LTROI and What Kept You So Long? to be simple easter eggs for his regular readers to notice, and not as something for nerds like myself to overcomplicate and think about way too hard (like I've done above).

Anyway.

One thing I want to ask you about is how the slang terms are handled in the English translation of I Am the Tiger. John has said that he decided not to try to replicate real-life criminal jargon since he realized that he was going to get it wrong no matter how much research he did on Stockholm's underworld, so he made up his own brand of slang for Gårdsstugan's criminals to speak in, using regular Swedish words mixed with Finnish influence. For example, he calls mild cocaine addicts snörvlare ("snifflers"), heavy addicts snorare ("snotters"), drug suppliers kranar ("water taps"), and the police kyttan (based on the Finnish kyttä, "cop"). I'm curious how Marlaine Delargy approached this, since it gives the book a lot of its own style and flavor but, I imagine, would be difficult to preserve in translation.
De höll om varandra i tystnad. Oskar blundade och visste: detta var det största. Ljuset från lyktan i portvalvet trängde svagt in genom hans slutna ögonlock, la en hinna av rött för hans ögon. Det största.

danielmann861
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Re: Finished - Thoughts (Spoilers Ahead)

Post by danielmann861 » Wed Jul 21, 2021 12:11 am

One thing I want to ask you about is how the slang terms are handled in the English translation of I Am the Tiger. John has said that he decided not to try to replicate real-life criminal jargon since he realized that he was going to get it wrong no matter how much research he did on Stockholm's underworld, so he made up his own brand of slang for Gårdsstugan's criminals to speak in, using regular Swedish words mixed with Finnish influence. For example, he calls mild cocaine addicts snörvlare ("snifflers"), heavy addicts snorare ("snotters"), drug suppliers kranar ("water taps"), and the police kyttan (based on the Finnish kyttä, "cop"). I'm curious how Marlaine Delargy approached this, since it gives the book a lot of its own style and flavor but, I imagine, would be difficult to preserve in translation.
It's pretty much the same...I remember sniffers, snorters and tap being mentioned in the English translation. I can't specifically remember any slang for the police though. But yeah, she uses sniffers, snorters and tap in the English translation.
Like I said, it's been a long time since I read the trilogy, but based on what I remember from it and from John's notes in Fail Again, Fail Better, I think identifying them as demons is a bit too simplistic. My impression is that they're a kind of symbiont or parasite that naturally arose from the Field and/or the primordial darkness in which X created it, and that they play some kind of role in the Field's blood-based metabolism. I agree that it's overall unclear what their purpose is.
When I say demons, I think I mean less literal demons and more so the demons the boy has endured thanks to his abuse at the hands of Svante. For instance, it's a world that the boy created to escape the torment that Svante was inflicting on him, right? So when I say demons I think what I took from it was they were maybe the manifestations of all the bad things he endured in a shapeless form.

It's interesting to me that in I Am Behind You, everyone sees something different when they look at them. It's like their white shapeless forms are their true form but they also feed off the things you fear most (seemingly) and take that appearance...which makes me wonder what the boy sees when he looks at them. Does he see Svante? Or does he see them in their shapeless form?

So when I say demons, I mean less literal demons and more the manifestations of the bad things that happened to the boy. Or maybe the bi-product of his bottled up anger and rage based on his torment. He created this place as a way to escape but even then, maybe he can't entirely escape his demons and that's maybe what these beings represent? Or at least that was my thought. That they were bi-products of the things he couldn't entirely escape from. I don't know...I honestly don't know what they are.

But then again, it doesn't really explain their blood-based metabolism.

I like that idea too though, that they're parasites. That's an interesting theory. On the one hand, I kind of wish there had been more of an explanation but I also kind of like the fact that they're left vague enough for interpretation.
X is the boy John met, yes. I don't remember the timeline discrepancy you mention; what are you referring to, specifically? Either way, JAL has slightly messed up with dates and timelines before (like how, in the same book, he places the Bathhouse Massacre in 1982 instead of 1981), but X and the boy are still clearly intended to be the same.
That wasn't so much what threw me for a loop...what threw me for a loop was something you mentioned below. That fictional JAL seems older than real JAL. I think that's what threw me about the timelines that I kept mixing up Fictional John with Real life John and getting the timelines mixed up in my head.

Once I got to the explanation itself about who X is and what Svante did to him, then it became crystal clear that I was right in my hunch about the little boy fictional John met in the woods.

It just threw me for a loop because I kept mixing up real John timeline with fictional John timeline. But yeah it became crystal clear to me once we got that back story on Svante and X.
The meta weirdness that arises from having John and his work of fiction LTROI exist in a universe where O&E also exist and the events of the book actually happened is something I personally find difficult to reconcile in my head. It's strange to imagine a fictional version of 12-year-old John living on Ibsengatan with his mother, being tormented by three bullies, and meeting X in the woods while dreaming about having a vampire friend in the same world where 12-year-old Oskar (who is in essence also a fictional version of John) also lives on Ibsengatan with his mother, is tormented by three very similar bullies with very similar names, and ends up actually getting a vampire friend.

Of course, it's important to mention that the fictional John is a few years older than both the real John and Oskar. The real John and Oskar were born in 1968, whereas the fictional John was born in 1965 (I think, based on I Always Find You's opening where he says he was 19 in September 1985; I don't remember if his birth date is specified later in the book). This means that the fictional John would have been 12 years old and met X several years prior to Oskar turning 12 and Eli and Håkan moving to Blackeberg.

More importantly, however, the fictional John claims in IAFY that his inspiration for making up Eli and writing LTROI (along with other characters like the Fisher in Handling the Undead and Simon in Harbour) was the events he experienced on the Field, with no mention of any real Eli existing or any real Bathhouse Massacre ever taking place.

IAFY's fictional John is indirectly mentioned twice by characters in IATT, so he does evidently exist in IATT's version of events as well, but perhaps one of the two is a slightly unreliable description of events and they shouldn't be taken as both being equally true in every regard.

The short explanation for all of this, of course, is that John intended IATT's references to LTROI and What Kept You So Long? to be simple easter eggs for his regular readers to notice, and not as something for nerds like myself to overcomplicate and think about way too hard (like I've done above).
In simple terms: Oh no, we've gone cross eyed :D I get ya, it was a bit of a mind fuck for me too.
It's been fun reading your perspective on these. IATT became my second favorite of his novels after I first read it over a year ago, but since then my liking of it has dimmed somewhat. (My top four at the moment are LTROI, Harbour, The Kindness, and then IATT.) I think my initial gushing over it was mostly due to the satisfaction of finding out the answers to so many mysteries from the first two books, plus the ending which left me stunned (in a good way). I'll definitely reread the whole trilogy at some point, probably in time for when he releases the future anthology containing Sigge (the short story which he claims will resolve the last remaining mysteries), so I'll see if I change my opinion on it then.
Maybe it was the fact that I read IABY and IATT back to back pretty much, it was fun to read IATT and finally have the puzzle pieces come together. I'll see how it holds up with time removed for me personally. But yeah, even outside of the puzzle pieces finally coming together, I was still taken by Tommy T and Linus themselves. I liked Tommy's relationship with Anita and found that interesting. And Linus is just a sad story in general to me.

Would be interesting to have all three of these books collected in one collection as when you do read them back to back to back, it does make up one large narrative. But at the same time, I'm probably more glad I read them one by one.

Interesting that he is doing another short story...I'm keen for more answers. Especially regarding Sigge. Bring it on, I'll gladly read more about this world.

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