Pseudonymous Swedish novelist Davys ups the ante in Mollisan Town, his world of dead-serious stuffed animals (Amberville, 2009), by introducing a stuffed messiah.
Composer Reuben Walrus has been diagnosed with Drexler’s syndrome, which means he’s got three more weeks of hearing left. How will he ever finish his Symphony in A minor? There’s only one way, he decides: He’s got to track down the mysterious healer Maximilian, who’s been credited with some truly miraculous cures. As Reuben gets closer to his hoped-for savior—hiring small-time private eye Philip Mouse, locating Maximilian’s associates and beneficiaries of his healing, repeatedly getting the brush-off because his urgent pleas are so transparently selfish—Wolf Diaz, Maximilian’s childhood friend and amanuensis, presents an interspersed back story relating his companion’s early years. Set apart from the time he first arrived in Das Vorschutz and claimed by the childless Eva Whippoorwill and Sven Beaver, despite his lack of definite resemblance to any particular species of stuffed animal and his disquieting tendency to grow larger, Maximilian presents numerous parallels with the life of Christ. He impresses his elders with his fondness for obscure parables, befriends criminals, outrages civil authorities and lands in prison even as his fame is spread by a burgeoning number of followers. For a while it seems as if Reuben will never achieve the meeting he longs for, and when he finally does, courtesy of some unexpected twists and a magical final scene, it doesn’t exactly go the way he planned. As in most modern animal fables since Orwell, Davys’s stuffed citizens never seem to have a fully realized independent existence—despite a couple of touching asides, e.g., “The last thing to leave a stuffed animal is hope, it is often said”—yet they don’t quite seem like people either.
The combination of empathy and distance suits the form of the fable well, allowing Davys to meditate on the nature of sin and redemption from an appealingly fresh perspective.