Some of the stories in Vignettes XXII are of an autobiographical nature, among them, unpleasant encounters of a few well-known, national figures who have revealed their inner characters to Ármann Reynisson, such as: Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former President of Iceland, Kolbrún Bergþórsdóttir, journalist and literary critic, Gunnar Smári Egilsson, Director of the Socialist Party, Aðalsteinn Ingólfsson, art historian and Heiðrún Eyvindardóttir, Chief Librarian of Árborg, Selfoss Library. There are also some glimpses of interesting contemporaries that the writer has met one way or another along life’s journey. A few stories are connected to the people and the environment of Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Eyjafjöll, Fljótshlíð, as well as Skagafjörður, Eyjafjörður and Siglufjörður.
All brought beautifully together through the unique style of the author who is both concise yet poetic, realistic and inspirational. The vignettes are ideal for reading aloud at many an occasion.
A finger in every pie
Creating a prize horse is similar to shaping an artistic dancer for a dance
exhibition. There is but a small difference between artistic creation and being a good rider and a clever breeder. The horse farmer regularly attends breeding shows, spring shows and the National Competition for Horse Riders. He has a keen eye for pairing together a mare and a stallion to bring forth the best qualities of both. He always looks for advice from the best professionals in any field regarding
The church builder
During this time, the church at Reynir, shabby and leaking, collapses in a large volcanic eruption in Suðurland. When there is no sign of reconstruction taking place, Hugur, one of the hidden people goes to speak to the rich Hallur and makes him an offer. Hugur says:”I shall build the church on one condition.” “What condition?” replies Hallur. “You will hand over Halldór, one of your sons, for the favour if you do not guess my son’s name.” The job offer is accepted.
In the days of the rural telephone system, Kjartan Ólafsson (1952), then in his twenties, picks up the phone as he leans his right hand on the hot central-heating radiator. Nobody is on the other end of the phone because at that exact moment, lightning had struck the telephone line connected between poles throughout the countryside, causing the phone to ring. In an instant, the handset is thrust against his right ear, the lightning pulsating straight through his body at such a rate that he trembles, shakes, foams at the mouth and his hands release. He falls helplessly to the floor, trembling until he loses consciousness.
The King of the Mountain
When Gísli Halldór Magnússon (1954) stands on the high ridge above Ytri-Ásar in Skaftártunga in Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla and looks out to check the weather, a vision unfolds that nobody else in the world can see. He stands on the thickest layer of earth in Iceland. Just below the farm, the arched river of Skaftá flows, the second largest in the country. To the west the most dangerous volcano, Katla, rises high. To the east, the highest mountain towers over – Hvannadalshnjúkur. To the south, you can see the lava field from Laki, the widest flow of lava to have flowed in living history. The Atlantic Ocean can be seen in the distance.
In ancient Rome, much emphasis was placed on one’s appearance – especially among women, as is still the case. In later times, this applies to both the sexes. Beer baths are cleansing for the body, they keep the skin, the body’s largest organ, firmer and more beautiful, as well as making the hair silky smooth and shiny. After the fall of the Roman Empire, this method of beautification declines and gradually evaporates over the centuries.
The political scientist
For about forty years, from early in the ninth decade of the twentieth century, the political scientist and professor Dr. Ólafur Þ. Harðarson attracts attention and admiration on national television for his concise explanations of each of the elections. The scholar who is a big presence on the screen is well mannered, speaks rationally and is a great statistician – sometimes he even foresees the election results. The University man is more interested in breaking politics to the core and understanding it than he is in engaging in the battle for power.
A blessing to be reborn
In the middle of the twentieth century, a poor village within the city limits is established west of the river Elliðaá called Blesugróf. There are gravel streets, wooden light poles are sparse and there are barely any gardens surrounding the shacks. The culture of the neighbourhood is characterised by drunkenness, violence and everything that is not constructive for the fragile souls of the
children who grow up there.
Soon after the school year begins, each and every girl has her navel examined by four brawny boys. The student is thrown to the floor and is held down by her hands and feet, startled and screaming. The clothes of the trembling girl are then thrust up, revealing her bare navel. Then drops of water are made to fall onto the navel. The girl considered the coolest is the one who can handle the most drops.
Suddenly, Adam gets knocked out and Guðlaugur attacks Eva who fights tooth and nail but to no avail. She is then dragged to a grave, thrown down onto it and whilst she is frozen in fear, her clothes are ripped off. The assailant’s face is grim and there is a glint in his eyes. When the rapist has finished, he rushes away into the night without saying a single word the whole time. After a short time, the acquaintances come to. Eva is in a state with a swollen face and Adam takes her home. The following morning, Eva’s parents accompany her to the police station and then to a gynaecologist. The doctor confirms that her virginity has been ripped away from her and the doctor writes a rape report in conjunction with the police. On the way home, one of the policeman asks “wasn’t it good?” The rapist is convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment.
The Goddess of Literature
Within a small literary circle, everyone knows everyone. The Goddess of Literature and fellow journalists who critique literature in the media unify in
“systematically” blocking Ármann’s writings from receiving any media attention. This, despite the fact that the author’s works are well known across the country and are flying out to customers abroad, not to mention the fact that they are used in the teaching of Icelandic at Hofstar University, one of the most respected universities in the United States.
The weekend after Reykjavík’s anniversary on the 18th of august in the year 1988, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, later the nation’s President, becomes prolific in the media against privately-run financial companies. It is organised in collaboration with his public relations officer, Hallur Hallsson, at Stöð 2 and Kári Jónasson, news editor at, Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, in conjunction with Þórður Ólafsson, the director of the Central Bank’s Banking Inspections. “The instigator is the one who causes the most damage.”