Tuesday, May 1, 2012

100 Books #36 - Sjón's THE BLUE FOX

Indulging my Iceland obsession even more this year, I grabbed Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson (aka Sjón)'s The Blue Fox on a bit of a whim after finishing Halldor Laxness' The Fish Can Sing.

The two books could hardly be more different, for while Laxness writes in the drily funny surrealism I've come to associate with Icelandic literature* (Sjón is more poetic (he has, apparently, penned a few of Bjork's ditties), coming at this work from the tradition of fables and fairy tales and keeping it short and sweet -- The Blue Fox is, basically, a novella. But for this story, a novella is all that was needed, and, given the goings-on it describes (this is not a book for animal lovers, however beguilingly cute the cover may be), all that would be wanted, I suspect. Between the heart-in-one's-throat opening sequence in which the titular blue fox desperately tries to escape a hunter and the hard-to-take accounts of mistreatment of a young woman with Down's Syndrome, this book may be magical but it is not charming in the least. This, I'm sure, we are meant to forgive due to its setting in the 19th Century, but MAN.

I'll have a look at some of the author's other material, because I am still fascinated with the culture he comes from and all, but might need to wait a while before I do.

*Obviously I mean apart from the sagas. Obviously. Though every once in a while Snorri Sturluson got off a witticism or two.

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