Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Selection from our Collection of Terrifying Reagan-Era Children's Books: Goodbye Rune (1986)

Here we have what is perhaps the saddest children's book we own. I pity the poor parent who buys this thinking Goodbye Rune is another stupid Goodnight Moon knockoff. It starts out pleasant enough, with two children romping across the Scandinavian fields together. . .

. . .and hold each other ever so tenderly. . .

Goodbye Rune was originally published in Norway as Farvel, Rune. In America, when we farm out the task of talking to our kids about difficult subjects like sex or death to a book, we're usually more inclined to euphemism and stories about anthropomorphic leaves or kindly honey badgers or the unreadable text of Judith Vigna. In Norway or Denmark or wherever the hell, I guess you give your child a book with haunting illustrations of bloating corpses floating in the fjord.

I do feel like I understand Lars von Trier a little bit better now.

The paintings are all really beautiful, though wouldn't you say there's a terrifying (though not-wholly inappropriate) anxiety in those brush strokes? I've never before seen a children's book that looked like it was illustrated by Edvard Munch.

And you thought the book about the boy who wanted to keep his grandpa's corpse in his closet was grim.

Then, as if things weren't bleak enough, as soon as poor Rune's tiny white coffin is placed in the earth, here comes the harsh Norwegian winter (where even the aurora borealis is colorless).

The saddest thing about finding this book at the thrift store was thinking about why someone ever bought it in the first place.