I opened my mailbox as I was just emptying it – I was dog- and housesitting at my inlaws’ so I just swinged by my own place. Saw this book in the mail. I opened it, “just to take a quick look”. I was in a terrible hurry, as usual, but I could not stop reading. The book, the words, the mood captured me immediately.
This book tells a story of band touring for a month through Europe. A band from the Northern Finland. A band that has issues, every band member with themselves and together as a dysfunctional family that is the band. The band that sounds a lot like Sentenced, the connection is obvious. The characters are so familiar you wanna laugh in tears, mostly because you miss that band so heavily. Sentenced was the single most influential band in my life.
To what extend is it true or fiction, we can only guess. I think this all adds to the dramatic and slow suicide Sentenced committed, it creates more smoke curtain around what really happened, it makes it more beautiful in a bittersweet way. But in a way it also explains some of the shit that they carried in their souls.
Leaving the Sentenced-fan part of me aside, as a book lover I got even more than I expected. As a wizard with words, Sami Lopakka is a master of the fucking universe. This book is a masterpiece when looking from a book critic’s point of view. It is very well written, and it grips you on a chokehold. The chapters are not too long, there is a lot of ridiculously funny dialog – whether inside the main character Hautamaa’s head or with some actual people (most of which he hates, that does not come as a surprise). The colorful history of Europe has been weaved into the storyline. It is not the supporting thread in it but definitely adds depth to it. Things aren’t that well in the home front either..
I enjoyed the black humor, I enjoyed the mindset of a troubled but so endlessly wise and intelligent, passioned young man and his mates. It was a powerful reading experience, mostly pretty disturbing and agonizing, but some parts made me cry with tears in my eyes. It surprised me. I finished the book in two nights, would have been sooner if my work and family life had not been interfering. After I was done, I felt like I was the one with the hangover. No, I didn’t want to light up a cigarette or have a beer. I wanted to take a shower! And I needed some time to climb back to the ground from the grave of Sentenced, or “a metal band from Northern Finland”.
I asked Sami, why was this written, was it his intention all along that his debut as an author would be of the same field he is most know for?
The story was greater than it’s creator in this case. I had to get it out of my system. As I was writing it I had no guarantee it would be published ever. The idea for it had been born in a tour bus in the middle of fucking nowhere, well over a decade ago. Everything on the tour was okay in the surface, but in my chest I felt nothing but darkness. The story kept hunting me, at some point I would have to try it how it bends to a novel. The book was on the docks for many years, as after Sentenced-years it took a long time for me to want to go back to the tour atmosphere. It was good for the process – as the years went by it added depth and shadows to the story and was good for the writing process.
He also told me that the amount of positive feedback has surprised him pleasantly, in all age groups. Like (the publisher) is looking for options to translate this book. I think it is a good idea, but not an easy task. A lot of the depth and brilliance of the word set might get lost in the translation. Nonetheless it would be a huge favor to all the Sentenced and Sami Lopakka fans around the globe. There might be also a plan for this to make it into a play. I want to see that happen.