Apr 12, 2009

The Fish Can Sing, as seen by Jon

Jon recently finished The Fish Can Sing, and Jon's comments focused on several things:

Life at Brekkukot: the descriptions of smells, living arrangements, and daily chores are delightfully funny; everyone living at Brekkukot is the beneficiary of unwavering hospitality; Álfgrímur learns from the permanent and transient guests there.

Icelandic Society: the affectations of the well-to-do are portrayed with unflattering humor; many of the characters in the book display a quiet--or not so quiet--desperation; Álfgrímur is taught by example that people are of value, whatever their station or status, and in fact Alfgrimur believes he could find complete satisfaction in being a lumpfisherman, despite his education.

Garðar Hólm: Alfgrimur is influenced by the idea of Garðar Hólm as well as his contacts with the man himself. The fact that no one has heard him sing adds to the mystery of the man, as well as his influential absence: he is usually traveling abroad, but his presence is very much felt in Iceland.

Finally, Jon wonders how much of Laxness' childhood is reflected in his writing, and he comments that The Fish Can Sing is an absorbing insight into a uniquely Icelandic coming of age story.

Thank you, Jon!


Professor Batty said...

More reviews! Great, just great!
(I'm working on Mary (Annie's mum) to write one when she finishes Fish...

Rose said...

Excellent! It's so great to hear what different people have to say about a book like this!

John said...

It has been several years since I read this book, Jon. Your comments helped me remember it, and remember what I liked about it.

Jon said...

Thanks! The one pure note always reminded me of the Who song "Pure and Easy". "There once was a note, pure and easy
Playing so free like a breath, rippling by
The note is eternal, I hear it, it sees me,
Forever we blend as, forever we die"
Not on a level with Laxness, but a memorable, catchy tune for me.

John said...

"Pure and Easy" review on allmusic"Pure and Easy" video on last.fm"Pure and Easy" music and lyrics at Rhapsody