Vignettes XIII

Vignettes XIII contains a varied selection of 43 stories from different origins. Those concerning Ármann Reynisson’s family history from the earlier part of the 20th century show how the Second World War intrudes into the lives of his relatives with tragic repercussions. The author then delves into amusing incidents and unexpected events in human existence, as well as absurd behaviour in everyday life. Some stories, which have been translated into German, illustrate the life and works of the artist and nature-lover Peter Lang from Bavaria who sails a modern Viking ship to Iceland and dwells in Snæfellsnes for one year capturing the atmospheric nature of the historic island onto canvas for the rest of the world to enjoy.


The Björnssons

The Second World War rages and the Americans are dragged into the war after the attack on Pearl Harbour. iceland, which is occupied by the British in 1939 becomes a highway for the movement of soldiers between the two continents. in the year 1941, the American army takes over the country and runs into difficulties in their relations with the natives. Therefore, the Western Icelanders, economist, Hjálmar, and communications specialist, Valdimar, the sons of Björn, a newspaper tycoon in Minneapolis, who both speak fluent English and Icelandic, are called to the White House in Washington for a meeting and discussion with President Roosevelt and the military authorities. As a result, the brothers are sent to Iceland on a frigate.

Halldór the student

After more than one month on board, in a convoy sailing from new York early in the winter of nineteen forty four, the year of independence, a passenger ship, which is located just off the coast of garðskaga has about an hour’s sailing left till it reaches Reykjavík. On board is Halldór who has studied journalism and lives with his relatives in Minneapolis. His family awaits his arrival with eager anticipation, especially his mother who is lying on her deathbed. Then, yes it was right then, as the Second World War is nearing the end, that a german submarine shoots down the ship goðafoss as the crew are rescuing people who have been shipwrecked. The last time Halldór was seen, he was giving another passenger his safety vest. He drowns, never to be seen again.

Guðrún the pilgrim

Two years into the sixth decade of the nineteen hundreds, an elderly woman strolls down Via Dolorosa with dignity in her national icelandic costume. never before in human history has a woman worn the icelandic national costume in golgata. This icelander has longed to visit the sacred city all her life and goes with the first ever group visiting from her homeland. guðrún, the shopkeeper, thinks of this event as the high point of her life.

Páll marries an elf woman

in the prime of his life, Páll marries an elf woman by the name of Álfrún and together they have two promising sons, Álfgeir and Álfmund. The family spends all their time together, day and night, and they sleep in the same bed together, one boy at the couple’s feet and the other at the gable end. in öxafjörður where the farm hand works the longest, there are some impressive elf dwellings both in Snartastaðanúpi and in the rocks at Brekkuhól. There, the family go to visit relatives and friends on their days of celebration and it is always a joyous reunion. Páll has a saying in his later years, “i am never alone.”

The confirmation gift

The life of this mentally ill man is a difficult road with a variety of medications and hospital admittances for a number of decades. He lives well in spite of this, however, and runs his father’s company after his father’s death, intermittently during spells of good health. The mentally disabled man is like a prisoner in his own body and understands his limitations well, which prevent him from living a normal life. When all other avenues are closed to him, religion is the one thing that helps him through the hard times. And the Bible he received all those years ago beomes his sustinance on life’s journey.


it is a shock for the widow to hear the news and, for a long time, she finds it diffcult to come to terms with her husband’s death and deal with her grief. She bursts into tears when she least expects it. Those who know her find it difficult to understand what is causing this behaviour. With one foot in the grave, the old widow says, “All this time, i have regretted that we never said goodbye on that fateful day.”

The pompous clergyman

in the north near Dumbshaf everything is just as it always has been, despite the Second World War raging at full intensity in the big wide world and it is still uncertain as to who will claim victory. The country people follow intently what is going on through the radio and try to comprehend the course of events. Shortly after the lambs are born, the farmers begin to sheer their sheep, as well as any other sheep that might get gathered up in the process. Then it falls to the young boys to deliver the wool to the correct owner or collect their fathers’ wool. in this way they ride from one farm to the next, relaying news from home while at the same time getting some new information from the farmers they visit.

Reflections of the future

Sometimes certain events from childhood are mirrored later on in life without one really noticing them. People are sensitive to varying degrees when it comes to making the hidden connections and often do not see the coherence until things come full circle. Most often it is the relatives who are better able to see the reflections in the lives of those closest to them. This applies to a certain young girl who is vivacious and wise beyond her years. She goes her own way in the world and experiences a lot in life, of which there is much talk.

The incident at a funeral

Hallgríms Church is full to the brim with members of the cultural crowd who gather to give a great poet his final send off. The man took his last breath in a steam room and his earthly form remained there all night long after his passing. You can barely see the white coffin for the flowers enveloping it and the church choir are suffocating in the extensive collection of wreaths, while the sweet smell of the flowers wafts over the mourners as if they had had a bottle of perfume poured over them. Sunlight shines into the softly-tinted church window from the right – the atmosphere is ceremonious.

Blind date

The two strangers meet up and discuss the matter. it seems that this young man has had a long-standing desire for the man who he knows purely by sight through the media. in his opinion, there are not enough interesting middle-aged men who are willing to engage in such a proposition. The older gentleman makes the situation clear, as a double life is not an option. Their meeting ends as he wishes the sportsman a long life and assumes he is free from the whole business. About one year after the date, this respectable man gets a call on his mobile phone. He hears heavy breathing and then a man whose voice he recognises says, “Are you quite certain you do not want a rendez-vous tonight?”

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