Alfgrim was an abandoned child whose mother gave birth to him in the turf cottage of Bjorn of Brekkukot, the fisherman, on the outskirts of Reykjavik. This is the tale of Alfgrim's boyhood and youth in the home of his grandparents in the early years of the twentieth century. It is a hospitable place, where dignified understatement is the norm and ...
Alfgrim was an abandoned child whose mother gave birth to him in the turf cottage of Bjorn of Brekkukot, the fisherman, on the outskirts of Reykjavik. This is the tale of Alfgrim's boyhood and youth in the home of his grandparents in the early years of the twentieth century. It is a hospitable place, where dignified understatement is the norm and everything from a lumpfish to a Bible has a fixed price that never changes. When Alfgrim goes to school and begins to learn Latin and music, he comes into contact with new attitudes toward the currencies of gold and language. The reigning spirit in this new world is the singer Gardar Holm, whose fantastic successes throughout the world have become a source of pride to his countrymen. Alfgrim's encounters with the singer only serve to make Gardar and his fame more mysterious and ambiguous. A beautifully crafted tale by Iceland's finest writer.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-01-08 Laxness, Iceland's best-known fiction writer and winner of the 1955 Nobel Prize for literature, authored well over 60 novels and other books before his death in 1998 at the age of 90. This lyrical novel, first published in English in 1966 (nine years after its original publication in Iceland), concerns a boy named Alfgr¡mur Hannson of Brekkukot, the humble fishing cottage where he is raised by adoptive grandparents. The novel's plotÄif so formal a term may be used to describe the tale's slow and meandering progress through Alfgr¡mur's uneventful youthÄinvolves an Icelandic singing star known as Gardar H¢lm. All Iceland, except for H¢lm's own mother and the folks at Brekkukot, dote on H¢lm because of his international reputation for performing lieder. Yet few have ever heard him singÄthe beloved H¢lm is growing old and he is mysteriously elusive. Young Alfgr¡mur may also be a gifted singer, and he tracks H¢lm down assiduously. Once he finds him, however, he learns that singing is only one way of seeking "the one true note"Äand he who has heard that note never sings again. Laxness portrays the backwardness of turn-of-the-century Iceland with gentle humor and irony. Tiny Iceland needs its "singing fish"Äcelebrities like Gardar H¢lm, and perhaps Alfgr¡mur HannsonÄbut the moral of Laxness's lovely fable references a simpler sentiment: glory may just as well be sought in the humblest walks of life. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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