Moonstone The boy who never was

Sjón, 1962-

Book - 2016

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Sjon Checked In
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2016.
Main Author
Sjón, 1962- (author)
Other Authors
Victoria Cribb (translator)
First American edition
Physical Description
147 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

In the telling of the Icelandic novelist (and Bjork collaborator) Sjon, Reykjavik in 1918 is so isolated that the arrival of a steamer from Denmark draws gawkers just to see the tailoring of the visitors' clothes. It is home to Mani Steinn, a canny 16-year-old who provides intimate services to his "gentlemen" and is a devotee of the movies. The epic silent films transfix him and reverberate through his mind as he sleeps, until the Spanish flu irrupts in town. All the musical accompanists are taken ill - a chanteuse "slumps unconscious from the piano stool" - and suddenly a film, now truly silent, cannot hold a candle to Icelandic realities. At one showing, the lights come up and "every other face is chalk-white; lips are blue, foreheads glazed with sweat." Such pellucid language is at odds with the vaporousness of this slender work, which at one point descends into a literal fever-dream. The stakes become tangible when Mani Steinn stumbles across one of his gentlemen: He is ailing and ensconced in a hidden chamber containing a gay novel and images of Adonis and St. Sebastian, like a Wunderkammer of forbidden desire. Neither the gentleman nor Mani Steinn can afford for their true identities to be exposed. But Sjon is not one to neatly tie all of this together. "Moonstone" is as ethereal and elusive as the clouds of fumigant that a doctor asks Mani Steinn to release in the Reykjavik cinemas, or a dream that has fled.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [November 13, 2016]
Review by Booklist Review

The latest book by Sjón (The Blue Fox, 2013), an Icelandic writer and lyricist for Björk, is a concise, magical, and elegiac novel set over several turbulent months in Iceland in 1918. At age 16, Máni Steinn, who is gay and a sometime hustler, is obsessed with two things: the beautiful, motorcycle-driving Sóla G and the movies. With little family, except for a great-aunt with whom he shares an apartment, Máni spends his days loafing about and taking in the new films at sleepy Reykjavík's two theaters. As the volcano Katla rumbles in the background, and Europe is engulfed in war, the Spanish influenza arrives, upending Máni's world. By the novel's end, a decimated Iceland becomes a sovereign state, while Máni himself gains a type of independence as well. A coda set a decade later provides a satisfying close to the novel, connecting Máni's story to the present and rewriting a bit of Iceland's history. Sjón is a minimalist genius, achieving so much with so little. And this work is brilliantly translated.--Kenney, Brian Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A long-time collaborator with Björk, Sjón is an Icelandic writer, poet, and musician with a cult following. His latest work to be translated into English opens with a sex scene that sent ripples across his homeland upon release and sets the tone for a story both tender and explicit. Set in Reykjavik in 1918 as the Spanish flu runs rampant, this short, impressionistic work follows Máni Steinn, a cinema-obsessed 16-year-old boy who turns tricks for older men passing through his provincial city, and Sola G, a motorcycle-driving girl who infatuates him. As the epidemic's death toll rises, and his beloved movie theater is shuttered, Máni is employed by Dr. Garibaldi Arnason to assist in the physician's visits with the dying, while Sola is the driver. After Máni is imprisoned for having sex with a Danish sailor, the pace of the novel quickens and its stakes heighten. This is not a vast historical epic in the mode of Hilary Mantel; the characters and settings are vaguely sketched. But the prose is full of striking and poetic scenes, such as a silent film screened without musical accompaniment because all the musicians have died of influenza: "it becomes apparent just how silent these films really are." This novel resonates both as an allegory about society and sex, as well as a historical glimpse of a time when pandemic and war pressed upon Iceland from the south. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved