This short novel was first published in Finnish in 1957; its translation into English ten years later doesn't help it at all. It's a haphazard and prosaic ""journey plus stories on route"" book. Joose, a Finnish infantryman on furlough in World War II, winds a long rope around his chest to take home as a needed present. On the train the soldiers trade ghoulish stories about the front--pigs wallowing in a field of corpses, or the body hanging over the fence that ""winked,"" or the officer who went mad and shot his men. Joose gets sick from the rope's constriction and almost misses his station but eventually staggers home. Here, implicitly, war and death breed impersonal horror and bizarre humor, but all this realism does not make the book cohere. It wanders laconically, sometimes aimlessly, like life rather than strong literature.