The contents of Vignettes XIX are extremely diverse. The first part of the book contains stories from the eternal city of Rome, St’Agata and the Sorrentino Coast in Italy, which have become cherished destinations for the author, as well as stories from Berlin and Zürich. The middle section of the book consists of stories from the Northeastern corner of Iceland. Nowhere does Ármann Reynisson feel such a strong connection to Icelandic culture as on well-established farms throughout the country’s rural areas. The third part of the book includes stories from New York and New England where a new world has been unexpectedly opened to the author, a world he had not previously encountered in the
United States but which he has richly enjoyed.
Every story greatly benefits from the author’s unique style, which is concise yet poetic, realistic but inspirational. The Vignettes are ideal for reading aloud at many an occasion.
In the twilight, the golden sun and the full moon dance the tango across the sky
above the eternal city with all of its remarkable history concealed behind the
flickering, luminous silk curtain. The evening sky is enrobed in a purple cloak and
the occasional pink, foggy, cloud formation soars across the dreamy celestial sky. Soon, darkness falls and the flood of electrical light from man-made structures illuminates the roads and streets. The glow fades into the starry sky above. At midnight, a new day is born; an unwritten page in the history of Rome is brought to life. Anticipation stirs at what the day might bring and what it could mean for the future development of the city. For millennia, Rome has seen its share of highs and lows, joy and sadness, and has had a major impact on the world at large.
Here and there in Trastevere, the delightful sounds of musical instruments
accompanied by captivating song can be heard, mixed with the street artists giving captivating performances. In addition to all this, there is the sound of discussion and laughter. At the fountain, romance is in the air with a kiss or two.
There are, undoubtedly, many whom dream of living in paradise when their time
on earth has come to an end, but what would such a place look like? It is a
question with no concrete answers – only speculation.
Cilento Orlando has a God-given talent for being a good judge of character.
When the mood takes him, his door is open to all of the interesting people of the
area. Good memories always accompany the patrons of Bar Orlando back to the
comfort of their own homes.
Don Alfonso 1890
For half a century, Livia and Alfonso’s life’s work has been to lift Italian cuisine
to higher levels, not least the meal’s setting. The fourth generation, Ernesto and
Mario laccarino, are carrying the torch. The Don Alfonso family has spread its
wings to Hotel Mamounia in Marrakech and the Grand Lisboa Hotel in Macao.
After a while, some soldiers surround the plane and four armed policemen
storm through the entrance. They grab the suspicious man and promptly drag
him, kicking and screaming, off the plane. It was discovered in the eleventh hour
that the man had successfully bypassed all the security gates at the airport and, as a result, was presumed to be a hijacker. Confusion spreads through the plane, accompanied by fear, and Hermann is shocked. Passengers are asked to disembark. It takes some time to go through all security procedures anew. The airline’s ground staff does their best to calm everyone down and they ensure him that everything will be done by the company to compensate passengers that have missed their connecting flights as a result of the incident.
Berlin in the spring of 2018
For as long as the structure survives, anyone looking up at the tower on a
bright, sunny day will see the symbol of Christianity. The hierarchy of great rulers
who erected this landmark falls in a single night, approximately half a century
after the Television Tower was constructed – few mourn the collapse of the
notorious regime. The Communist opposition to Christianity is snuffed out.
Life in Berlin continues to thrive through good times and bad whatever may
The Mountains of Hólsfjöll
At twilight, the starry sky is adorned with light green and reddish Northern
Lights, which converge in rapid and awe-inspiring fluctuations. At the end of the
journey, it is like awakening from a sweet dream sailing across the high heavens.
Since there is no television at Valhöll, the women provide the oddball with a
little variety to spice up his existence. He eagerly awaits the professor’s next annual visit. Nothing is known of the professor’s scientific achievements – it is never the same woman who accompanies him.
The silver medalist
At the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, an Icelander wins silver in the triple jump,
attracting the attention of the world. The athlete, the first of his nation to win a
medal at the Olympic games, is hailed a national hero. The achievement brings
the young, small nation together and inspires the country’s future sportsmen.
When the situation has remained this way for several years, the local government decides to move a cabin to Kárastaðir with all modern comforts. The
rhymester, who is now getting on in age, is given the cabin on the condition that
he actually lives in it and that no sheep are allowed to enter. He accepts without a fight. However, in his final years, Ástvaldur’s favourite sheep gets to live with his master.
To liven up the settlement, put it on the map and attract people to the village,
some enterprising brothers decide to hold a music festival there. Every July since
2006, “Bræðslan” is held in the village’s herring plant of the same name, a
disused, dilapidated, run-down building. The country’s foremost musicians are
encouraged to play popular music that both humans and elves can appreciate.
The Lagarfljót Worm
From the time of settlement, locals have spotted a gigantic worm moving through
the lake of Lagarfljót. The creature is most unpredictable and it has proven
difficult to ensnare. There is no way of knowing when the Lagarfljót Worm will
rise up from the lake for a breath of fresh air or to observe the locals. Scholars
hoping to research the phenomenon take long shifts sitting by the lake, only to
leave disappointed. Not to mention the illustrators, photographers and filmmakers
hoping to make a documentary about the wonder. The stories told by the very few
who have seen the creature reach far beyond the mountains and there are many
versions of this phenomenon.
Skyscrapers spread out across Manhattan like the Amazon rain forest. Within, lie
ten longitudinal avenues with almost two hundred streets intersecting. Some walk
around with their heads facing upward where the sky and the stars peep through
above. Sunbeams break through the spaces between the tree branches, crisscrossing
along the walkway where steam shoots up through the sewers far and wide.
Heavy traffic floods slowly but surely through the streets between the buildings
all day and all night long.
The drive in a sports car
Well-kept farmsteads and farm animals greet them upon arrival at Berkshire
Hills, Massachusetts. After just over a two-hour drive, the author passes through
the gates to the vast land surrounding Edgewood Manor, built in the Cotswold
style, emerging from the sports’ car invigorated after a pleasant journey.
The following decade, Edgewood and its grounds deteriorate as nobody sees fit
to live there. After the Second World War, Edward Crosby Harwood (1900-1980),
an economist who warned against the Great Depression, finds a purpose for the
manor. The scholar, newly returned from the War, sees an opportunity to house
the future headquarters of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER)
in the area where he spent his childhood – an institution that Harwood lays the
foundations for in the year 1933.
Three separate states can be seen from the stately Edgewood Manor in Berkshire
Hills, a rarity in the United States. The onlooker stands in Massachusetts, looks
south over Connecticut and Westward to New York. The landscape surrounding
consists of arched, wooded hills and grassy valleys. Strolling around the grounds
behind the manor house gives the onlooker a sense of being alone in the world
because there is no sign of inhabitation except in the distance.
A stone’s throw away from the vortex of economics in Edgewood lies the estate’s
woodlands in Berkshire Hills. Within, a new world waits where the issues in the
United States, as well as elsewhere in the world, are forgotten. Gradually, thoughts
are replaced by the tranquility of nature and its unique sounds nourish the mind
from the trials and tribulations of the daily grind. The nature reserve, untouched
by human encroachment, provides a place to be at one with the creator.