Hlynur Bjorn is an unemployed 30-something loner, still living with his mum, who spends his days on the Internet, watching satellite TV, and gazing at girls in the pub. But Hlynur's cosy, unthreatening world is shaken when his mother comes out as a lesbian, and her Spanish girlfriend Lolla moves into their home. "101 Reykjavik" is a first-person account of a blackly funny and bizarre love triangle, a dark, comic tale of perverse sexuality and slacker culture in Iceland's trendy capital city that pokes fun along the way at such foibles of our culture as CNN weather reports and porn videos.
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If you ponder life as an immature Icelandic slacker, then you'll want to check out Hallgrímur Helgason's novel 101 Reykjavík. Hlynur Bjorn lives at home, watches TV and porn when he's not getting high with his divorced mom and/or her lesbian lover, and sluffs off to bars most nights to put a dollar value on women (based on desirability) while hanging out with his equally bored friends. By the time Hlynur faces moral challenges, it's difficult to find reason to care. Hlynur's thoughts are detailed, shotgun style, with some wit and humor (though much is forced), and a strangeness one hopes is the result of Icelandic idiom lost in translation. In a gay couple's bedroom, Hylnur and Hofy enter into this exchange, typifying Helgason's disjointed style:
"Why did you sleep with me?"
Hofy turns and looks at me propped up on my elbows with Rosy's hat on my head. Must look pretty weird, I suppose. I tilt my head to allow the hat to fall off, and look up at the ceiling. Looking down at me are two fat, hand-painted, and pretty well-hung angels. Nice one, guys. It's like that chapel in St. Peter's. Michelangelo was gay. Yeah. Maybe it's all in the Bible. I look at her again.
"Why did I sleep with you?"To be sure, 101 Reykjavík captures the ennui of a cold, depressed generation (and nation), but if "[w]ords are snowflakes. They fall," Helgason might have tried to clear a better path. --Michael Ferch About the Author:
Hallgrímur Helgason is an Icelandic author, painter, translator, cartoonist and essayist. He has studied at the School of Visual Arts and Crafts in Reykjavík and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.
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