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Icelander Paperback – June 10, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Nabokov meets Lemony Snicket in this manic Chinese box version of a mystery. The story, on the surface, is a whodunit set in Iceland, but it's an Iceland of fictitious cities and fantastical underground lands, in which Our Heroine (the only name given to the book's central character) searches for her lost dog while resisting and then reluctantly solving the mystery of who murdered her best friend. The book's multiple narrators include the grownup Our Heroine, a Hollywood actor, a pair of detectives whose style of speech owes more than a little to Yoda, the murder victim's husband, an Icelandic gossip columnist, and the overnarrator who speaks through the book's 53 footnotes, Prefatory Note, Prelude and Afterword. Through all of this ancillary material, the overnarrator refers to a series of mystery novels featuring Our Heroine's now-dead mother and now-demented father and their nemesis, an Icelandic Moriarty. The murder victim herself speaks through notes she has left behind, one of which reads: "We must create incomprehensible things in order to have an analogy for our incomprehension of the universe." Perhaps it's not quite the imperative she thought. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Long aspires to the linguistic acrobatics of Nabokov and Pynchon in this clever but somewhat tedious mystery debut. The tale revolves around the daughter of Emily Bean-Ymirson, a criminologist and anthropologist, who, along with her Icelandic husband, Jon, solved a slew of cryptic cases before her death in 1985. (Fictional scholar Magnus Valison has novelized the late Bean's diaries in 12 volumes, matter-of-factly titled The Memoirs of Emily Bean.) Emily's daughter, known only as Our Heroine, reluctantly takes up her mother's work following the untimely demise of Shirley MacGuffin (yes, the name is a nod to Hitchcock), a "continually aspiring" author who pens insufferably pretentious prose. Even the most patient readers may find themselves exhausted by Long's legions of footnotes and excessive narrative shifts. There's also the strange cast, which fills a three-page list and includes a rogue librarian, a pair of metaphysical detectives, and a missing dachshund with better breeding than any of the two-legged characters. Long is a talented wordsmith; pity he couldn't demonstrate his verbal dexterity in a more reader-friendly way. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Item: the protagonist is known only as "Our Heroine" throughout; Hiro Protagonist, step aside.
Item: there have been murder mysteries where the macguffin is a lost Shakespeare play; in "Icelander," Shirley MacGuffin is killed over a lost Thomas Kyd play.
Item: Hubert Jorgens, "rogue library-scientist...blacklisted from any jobs within the mainstream library-science community"!
Item: the footnotes. Here's an extract from one of my favorites, which describes Vanaheim, the underground country living in caves beneath Iceland, whose struggle for national independence is the motivation for some of Our Heroine's antagonists: "We await the day that Vanaheim, like an unruly footnote, will rise to overwhelm the would-be master text of topside Iceland."
Item: though this is apparently the author's first work, it is presented as the latest in a long series. Every character, on their first appearance in the story, gets an introductory paragraph recapping which of Our Heroine's family's previous adventures they appeared in.
The only quibbles I can make about the book are: I'm modern enough I'd like just a *little* more of the story to be explicit, I can't figure out what "Angus O'Malvins" is an anagram of, and the title is misleading in that the only character who appears to be an Icelander is distinctly a supporting role. (Well, plus several Vanaheimers.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Truly enjoyed reading this book. Would highly recommend. Very fun read.Published 9 days ago by Laura
Great price! Fast shipping,I'm very happy with my order! Highly recommend this seller :)Published 15 months ago by Kate
This book is something else. It has the tone of a chewed up and spit out Nancy Drew, and the prose of a classic. Quality writing and a wild romp.Published 18 months ago by A. Freeman
This was a quirky little tale. It's written in the style of an grown-up Lemony Snicket book. It also brings to mind Joe Meno's The Boy Detective Fails and The Third Policeman. Read morePublished on June 3, 2010 by Jessica Confessore
This first novel is too precious for its own good. Have hopes for the author's next attempt because of glimmers of wit and narrative skill amidst the density of tiresome allusions... Read morePublished on March 26, 2010 by edlk
An excellent book: a rollicking plot, screwball comedy, imaginative world building, insightful meta-fiction, tenderness, intrigue, love, war, peace, playfulness, seriousness, and... Read morePublished on April 3, 2008 by Peter McCafferty
Yes, this book is cute. Just look at that cover! I bet people buy it solely for that alone. I'll admit, it was one of the selling points for me. Read morePublished on January 2, 2008 by ASM
I love this book so much that I am buying it for various friends and family members as the perfect Christmas present. Read morePublished on December 3, 2006 by Anne Clarke
one of the best things about this novel is its ability to appeal to various types of readers on different levels. Read morePublished on June 19, 2006 by JaclynJean