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6 review for Icelandic Short Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Apparently this is not my genre. A pretty comprehensive collection with an overwhelmingly grim vibe. In one, the subject was suicide: “When I was a young girl people often hanged themselves down there simply out of bad temper.” She goes on to say of her grandparents, “They were constantly scaring each other by threatening to commit suicide. Probably they didn’t know of any other way to get each other’s sympathy and to keep their love alive, and it lasted them all their lives long. I never notice Apparently this is not my genre. A pretty comprehensive collection with an overwhelmingly grim vibe. In one, the subject was suicide: “When I was a young girl people often hanged themselves down there simply out of bad temper.” She goes on to say of her grandparents, “They were constantly scaring each other by threatening to commit suicide. Probably they didn’t know of any other way to get each other’s sympathy and to keep their love alive, and it lasted them all their lives long. I never noticed any other sign of affection between them than this.” The majority of the stories seem to go like this: The main character is either a desperately poor person or a well-regarded person in the village. Bad things happen to them, including being mocked or tormented by other villagers. Often there is violence done to them. The story ends either with the person dead or weeping on the side of the road. Feel-good stories, basically.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric Hinkle

    Pretty solid collection of Icelandic short stories dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. There isn't much variety in the tones and subjects, mainly dealing with hard times on farms or in fishing villages, but most of the authors had a real knack for writing short nuggets of fiction. It's a shame that the majority of the writers haven't had much at all translated into English, making this collection their only real representation in this language. I originally got this from the library in order Pretty solid collection of Icelandic short stories dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. There isn't much variety in the tones and subjects, mainly dealing with hard times on farms or in fishing villages, but most of the authors had a real knack for writing short nuggets of fiction. It's a shame that the majority of the writers haven't had much at all translated into English, making this collection their only real representation in this language. I originally got this from the library in order to read merely the Laxness story, but after reading a few of the others I stuck with it. There are some truly phenomenal stories, a few probably even better than the Laxness story (which itself is nearly the best of the 9 short stories I've read from him). To anyone interested in Icelandic fiction, I can't recommend these stories enough: "Hans Voggur" by Gestur Palsson "And of the Church" by Gunnar Gunnarsson "Blind Man's War" by Halldor Stefansson "Lilly" by Halldor Laxness "Padlock" by Olafur Johann Sigurdsson And here, as always, are some of my favorite passages: "Nobody really knew his name or where he came from, much less what had been the aim of his life. Even on this dissection day I could not remember the melody he had sung. One thing was certain: he was carved up with scientific precision, and we scrutinized his insides with more attention than he had ever been looked at from the outside in all his life." -Lilly: The Story of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzarsson in Life and in Death by Halldor Laxness "It's bad enough not to see the blessed light, not to be able to look at things and faces one knows and loves. It isn't just this pitch-black darkness surrounding one like a wet cloth and the knowledge that it'll never change, but it's the disgusting helplessness - not to be able to move without fumbling and not to be able to use one's physical strength. One's strength dwindles away and one's whole body rots from fear and inability, and the soul withers away day by day as if it was sneaking off; it has no interests, it can't reach any conclusions from experience, it has to believe only what it hears, and be helpless and discontented." "Blind Man's War" - by Halldor Stefansson "He stumbled out into the farm lane and cried. But there was no use crying with blind eyes, for one doesn't see any new hope sparkling through the tears. One only feels them rolling down one's cheeks like worms. They give no solace and one knows that other people find it ridiculous for a blind man to cry." -"Blind Man's War" - by Halldor Stefansson "A story was told about Hans, that when he had just become a water carrier the street urchins had started to tease and taunt him just as they do to the other water carriers, male or female. They threw snowballs at him, spilled his water, and shouted various snide remarks at him from behind. Hans took all this with utmost calm, but once when the provocations and abuses exceeded all limits he said to them in a quiet and low voice, 'It's all right, the poor children must be allowed to play.' Strange to say, the brats calmed down and gradually stopped provoking old Hans. And it didn't take long before it was considered the worst crime among them to play a trick on him." -"Hans Voggur" by Gestur Palsson

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

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