Thursday, December 22, 2011

From the Mouth of the Whale, by Sjón

I was two-thirds of the way through this when I accidentally left it on a plane this morning. And though I did not do so intentionally (today's travel lesson: generic Dramamine does not work, which may render you incapable of remembering things not directly related to not-vomiting), when I realized I had there was not all that much regret. 

The plot: in 17th-century Iceland, Jonas Palmason has been convicted of heresy and exiled to a rocky island. There he recalls his life, in a stream-of-consciousness manner often lacking in paragraphs or any punctuation but ellipses, and basically what that life taught me was that 17-century Iceland was disgusting.

Seriously, the descriptions of food, hygiene, illness, wounds: they all had me reeling back from the pages sure I would never eat again. And they weren't really necessary, but then, I don't really know what the point of the book was. There were some ruminations on God and nature, but those would be followed by several pages about what happens if you never pick out the food left in your teeth. (Hint: it's not something you want to read about during breakfast.) 

Maybe in the last third it picked up. I don't know. And I'm okay with that. Not so much my cup of tea. And I'm on vacation now, so you can't make me read about Icelandic dental tragedies if I don't want to!

Next up: about a fifth of the way through Les Misérables and halfway through Shot in the Heart. Because Mormon murderers make good holiday reading. 

1 comment:

  1. Shot In the Heart was the book that made me feel so guilty about reading trashy true crime books I nearly quit for good. It was amazingly heartrending. It was like The Execution of Raymond Graham in book form.