88 Stories Around Iceland
In 88 Stories Around Iceland, Ármann Reynisson offers his readers a unique glimpse into Icelandic society both in modern times and the past. His stories cover a wide variety of topics set in the countryside and the towns alike, exploring the country’s people, animals and natural wonders. The collection also contains stories about the relations between humans and elves, as well as some mildly erotic stories. The order in which the stories appear follows a journey around the country and for the reader’s convenience; there is a map of Iceland on each page pinpointing the exact location where the story takes place. The stories in this collection are especially well suited for reading aloud and are intended to be informative and contemplative.
Love on the Veranda
The midnight sun glows pale violet on the face of the woman artist and her admirer. They have had a long friendship without ever being intimate. They enjoy deep conversation about life and art while they drink a mellow vintage. Through the open veranda doors, the sound of the sea ripples through their senses. The bright night hints at eternity. Without warning, the house suddenly begins to tremble, the paintings on the walls move, chairs and tables shift their ground and a loud tremor runs through china and crystal.
You can find elves living in rocks and large boulders all over the country, but usually at the best spots in each shire with the broadest view across the surrounding landscape. Travellers usually show respect for these elf communities and do not disturb them unnecessarily. But we have taken to destroying them entirely with our building and power projects. Whoever shows them friendship is well rewarded but revenge is taken against those who bring harm and destruction.
Salmon in bed
All over the country, fast-flowing salmon rivers run through a variegated landscape down to the ocean. They hold two kinds of salmon, the wild variety that travels up the rivers from the sea during the spring to lay its eggs and the other anglers, men and women from the towns who battle to land them. it is as if some people form an addiction to salmon-fishing that they can never shake off and their lives revolve almost entirely around the sport. During the summer anglers swarm all over the country, on foot or driving their jeeps up and down along the rivers in the hope of catching salmon. They stand about in the river itself or on the banks, rod in hand, waiting for their quarry to bite-and then the life and death struggle begins. Some of them compete where the stocks are most plentiful.
A city child went off to the countryside for the entire summer in the days when they still made butter in churns in the West Fjords. Mountainous country with narrow green valleys with running rivers and streams capture the boy’s imagination and hold it fast. Horses of different shades and colours can be seen in almost every pasture. One of them, almost like Odin’s own horse, has piercing eyes, stands high at the shoulders and has a thick mane and tail. Only the farmer himself may ride him. Summer wears on. Tasks around the farm are mixed with hours of play. He likes riding best and soon shows considerable skill for a beginner. He has a way with horses and proves to be a great help during the round-up.
The aluminium champion
An island in the north was untouched by the Creator’s hand when the first settlers stepped ashore. They were taken with its landscape and left the old country for freedom’s sake. Through the centuries, their descendants struggled against the forces of nature but they did not spoil the land for future generations. In the age of prosperity, science and knowledge those who ruled the land declared it was open season on the landscape. All and sundry might open fire at will. A hardy country girl appears on the scene and becomes a government minister. She values life according to material profit and forgets spiritual wealth for a while because it is a concept thought oldfashioned and clichéd in political rhetoric. The woman has a fierce turn of phrase and an excitable nature, and with eyes blazing she begins a great fight to build new aluminium factories at a time when they are already becoming obsolete in neighbouring countries. At the same time aluminium factories are disassembled and dispatched in parts to countries where nature’s treasures are sacrificed forever for the sake of harnessing power at a give-away price for a few decades. The aluminium champion speaks the lingo of foreign investors who have no other light to guide them than the maximisation of profits because their thirst for money cannot be quenched.