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The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland Paperback – November 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions; First Trade Paper Edition edition (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571313109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571313102
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jim Forest on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some years back, Bill Holm, a writer and poet of Icelandic descent, decided to visit the island his ancestors had left behind when they immigrated to Minnesota. He not only found himself happy to be there, but has since become one of Iceland's part-time residents, having bought a small house named Brimnes in a village, Hofsos, along one of the country's northern fjords. Mainly he and his wife are there for the summer but sometimes they manage winter visits as well, when Iceland's "spareness is magnified by snow and darkness." It's a simple life. Their Icelandic-made stove is older they are but does all a stove needs to do, with the not insignificant advantage that the fish cooked on it were swimming in local waters just an hour or two before arriving in the Holm's kitchen.

Holm writes: "When Americans ask me to describe my little house, I tell then, not entirely disingenuously, that it a series of magical windows with a few simple boards to hold them up, to protect your head from rain while you stare out at the sea."

As a boy growing up on the prairie, about as far from an ocean as it is possible to be, he read books of adventures at sea -- Moby Dick, Two Years Before the Mast, etc. -- and dreamt one day of finding his way to the world where land gave way to endless water with its tides and rollers utterly indifferent to all headlines, ambitions, ideologies and advertisements. In Iceland he found what he had been looking for.

Returning to the theme of windows, he writes:

"We do not see reality -- or nature -- directly," he writes, "but always through a window of some sort. These windows are often physical, the window of our `place,' our experience, our particular angle onto nature.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd C. Hackl on April 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bill Holm takes his readers with him as he settles down along the northern coast of Iceland in a cottage close to where his ancestors had lived before emigrating in the 19th century. For those new to Holm's writing, the book will reveal his sharp eye for detail, the breadth of his research, and his great heart as he shares a sense of going home to the land of his forebears. He is a brilliant essayist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Buddy's mom on January 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always enjoy Holm's writing and this book continues that sentiment. His feeling for the land of his ancestors comes through in each chapter. That he is also a poet comes through in his prose. A wonderful book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate on November 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoy all of Bill Holm's work. I prefer his essays and poetry. Bill and I grew up in a similar post-immigrant culture (he was a few years older). The Old Country was very present in our American homes. Can the Old Country be home to us? Bill gives it a try, living both in small town America and in z fisherman's cottage in Iceland.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Augustine on May 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Holm looks deeply into both his Icelandic life and his American life. He writes about the changes in both, their shortcomings and their positives, but he takes mostly a polemicist stance on American life. A great read for anyone interested in Iceland or America.
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The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland
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