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Iceland

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Iceland follows the absurd adventures of its narrator, Paul, from making love to a woman named Emily whom he meets by a swimming pool filled with floating internal organs, to falling into an underground river in a volcano in Iceland, to sitting in a piano bar for six years crying over the lyrics to "The Banana Boat Song." Driven by Paul's obsession to be reunited with Emil Iceland follows the absurd adventures of its narrator, Paul, from making love to a woman named Emily whom he meets by a swimming pool filled with floating internal organs, to falling into an underground river in a volcano in Iceland, to sitting in a piano bar for six years crying over the lyrics to "The Banana Boat Song." Driven by Paul's obsession to be reunited with Emily, the plot leaps hilariously through time, coincidence, and disjointed logic, with only the narrator's ludicrous perspective to hold it on course. Reminiscent of Raymond Roussel and Harry Mathews, Krusoe has combined an eccentric character and an outlandish plot to create an unforgettable book.


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Iceland follows the absurd adventures of its narrator, Paul, from making love to a woman named Emily whom he meets by a swimming pool filled with floating internal organs, to falling into an underground river in a volcano in Iceland, to sitting in a piano bar for six years crying over the lyrics to "The Banana Boat Song." Driven by Paul's obsession to be reunited with Emil Iceland follows the absurd adventures of its narrator, Paul, from making love to a woman named Emily whom he meets by a swimming pool filled with floating internal organs, to falling into an underground river in a volcano in Iceland, to sitting in a piano bar for six years crying over the lyrics to "The Banana Boat Song." Driven by Paul's obsession to be reunited with Emily, the plot leaps hilariously through time, coincidence, and disjointed logic, with only the narrator's ludicrous perspective to hold it on course. Reminiscent of Raymond Roussel and Harry Mathews, Krusoe has combined an eccentric character and an outlandish plot to create an unforgettable book.

30 review for Iceland

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    Not a pirate. In November 2010, an employee at Best Buy walked past me, did a double-take, and said, "Wow, you have an eye-patch! That's so awesome!" Then she bumped into a battery display and knocked a bunch of double-As to the floor. I did indeed have an eye-patch: I had lost a contact lens several months earlier, and the keratoconus in my left eye was so advanced that a replacement was nearly impossible to get. Surgery was the next option, but while I waited I found it was easier to wear the p Not a pirate. In November 2010, an employee at Best Buy walked past me, did a double-take, and said, "Wow, you have an eye-patch! That's so awesome!" Then she bumped into a battery display and knocked a bunch of double-As to the floor. I did indeed have an eye-patch: I had lost a contact lens several months earlier, and the keratoconus in my left eye was so advanced that a replacement was nearly impossible to get. Surgery was the next option, but while I waited I found it was easier to wear the patch than to go around with one good eye and one misshapen cornea that turned everything beyond the tip of my nose into a kaleidoscopic mess. But that was the boring explanation. If I had been more polite, more sociable, more daring--indeed, if I was as dashing in manner as the eye-patch made me in appearance--I would have knelt down to help my somewhat-clumsy eye-patch admirer pick up the batteries she had upset, and used the opportunity to tell her the real story about my eye-patch. For her, it would have involved airships, air-pirates (she seemed the steampunk type), thrilling sword-fights and other deeds of derring-do. I would have even used the words "deeds of derring-do." But I didn't. My sister called me over to the next aisle, and my chance to charm the awkward (and pretty) battery-dropper vanished. Several weeks later I got a corneal transplant, removing my need to wear an eye-patch. I went from 20/400 eyesight before the surgery to 20/40 several months later, and I never got to visit that particular Best Buy again. In Iceland, a typewriter repairman named Paul meets a college dropout named Emily at an organ pool (he's there because he needs an organ, she's there because the organs need her), and what happens between them stays with him even as he embarks, unwittingly, on a series of unexpected and absurd adventures to Iceland and back, through a volcano, an avalanche, a piano bar, and prison, encountering mysterious men from L. L. Bean catalogs, a sad carpet cleaner, a saga-writing tour guide, and an existential ex-pianist along the way--and always, always, always trying to return to Emily, the sweet young woman he fell in love with all those years ago. All because he needed an organ transplant. Some people have all the luck, I guess.

  2. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    My first thought is of Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s infinitesimal novels and their arbitrary “and-then-something-else-happened” plots, belying perhaps some structural sleight-of-hand, or perhaps not. In Krusoe’s novel, Paul is a bumbler whose chance encounter with Emily at the organ pool (literally a pool of organs) shapes the next fourteen-plus years of his life—he’d gone there to acquire an unspecified organ but ended up having unscheduled hanky-panky on the diving board. As you do. What follows My first thought is of Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s infinitesimal novels and their arbitrary “and-then-something-else-happened” plots, belying perhaps some structural sleight-of-hand, or perhaps not. In Krusoe’s novel, Paul is a bumbler whose chance encounter with Emily at the organ pool (literally a pool of organs) shapes the next fourteen-plus years of his life—he’d gone there to acquire an unspecified organ but ended up having unscheduled hanky-panky on the diving board. As you do. What follows in this surreal novel is an altered reality—not exactly dreamlike, not a cold authorial playpen . . . but somewhere in between. Accepting the writer’s ludicrously wooden dialogue as a humorous meta-ha is crucial, otherwise Krusoe would be guilty of Dan Brown-level crimes against naturalism. But the cartoony cardboard-like narrator, bumbling oaf or not, barely holds the novel together, especially during the overly descriptive bridges between the next “something-else-that-happens” (usually involving unscheduled sex and volcanoes), and lapses at times into a weary absurdism. Otherwise, a highly entertaining slice of playful and wilfully weird comic fiction. And Martin Amis likes it too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Warum der Abwechslung halber nicht einmal am (Buch)Ende beginnen? ---Achtung, Spoiler--- Wenn wir also Paul, den Protagonisten dieses Kurzromans, auf Seite 182, der letzten des Buches, verlassen, befindet er sich auf einem Friedhof; glücklicherweise immer noch über der Erde, obwohl er uns im ersten Satz des Romans bereits mitgeteilt hat, dass er „Stück um Stück“ stirbt. Eine geheimnisvolle Krankheit ist es, die ihn da quält, und Paul begnügt sich mit der sonderbaren Auskunft seines Arztes, ein Or Warum der Abwechslung halber nicht einmal am (Buch)Ende beginnen? ---Achtung, Spoiler--- Wenn wir also Paul, den Protagonisten dieses Kurzromans, auf Seite 182, der letzten des Buches, verlassen, befindet er sich auf einem Friedhof; glücklicherweise immer noch über der Erde, obwohl er uns im ersten Satz des Romans bereits mitgeteilt hat, dass er „Stück um Stück“ stirbt. Eine geheimnisvolle Krankheit ist es, die ihn da quält, und Paul begnügt sich mit der sonderbaren Auskunft seines Arztes, ein Organ in ihm würde sich auflösen und müsse daher erneuert werden. Ohne, dass Paul sich fragt, welches Organ eigentlich des Austausches bedarf, besucht er auf Anraten des Arztes einen sonderbaren Organ-Pool, in dem die unterschiedlichsten Organe friedlich vor sich hin plätschern. Anstatt sich eines auszusuchen, und die Auswahl ist beileibe (!) groß, verliebt er sich stattdessen sofort in die wunderschöne Emily, die als Organpflegerin im Pool schwimmt und dafür sorgt, dass die Stimmung unter den Organen gut ist (abgestorbene werden natürlich gleich aussortiert). Es scheint zumindest, dass Paul sich in Emily verliebt. Sofern wir uns an die Tatsachen halten, wäre die sachlichere Auskunft wohl zutreffender, dass er sofort und mehrfach Sex mit Emily hat und sie fortan nicht mehr vergessen kann. Kehren wir zum Ende des Romans zurück, denn hier ist die Sicht unverstellt, und wir sehen, dass Paul zwar immer wieder an Emily gedacht hat, nachdem er sie am Pool geliebt hat, doch dass es dreimal sieben Jahre braucht, bis er sie wieder trifft (plus/minus ein Jahr). Zunächst führt ihn das Schicksal, wenn man es so nennen möchte, mit einem Teppichreiniger namens Leo, den Paul nur sehr flüchtig kennt, nach Island. Hier stirbt Leo, dafür lernt Paul Greta (richtig, fünf Buchstaben, genau wie Emily) kennen, heiratet sie, hat mit ihr zwei Kinder, und verliert schließlich die ganze Familie durch eine isländische Schneelawine. Nach sieben Jahren in Island kehrt er nach Amerika zurück, wo er seiner Intuition vertrauend sich auf die Suche nach Emily macht, stattdessen aber für die nächsten sieben Jahre in einer eigenwilligen Piano-Kneipe namens „Calypso“ strandet und sich in die Wirtin Sally (muss ich die Buchstaben vorzählen?) verliebt, die drogenabhängig ist. Der Versuch, das Geld für die Befriedigung ihrer Sucht aufzubringen, befördert Paul dann für weitere sieben Jahre ins Gefängnis, bevor er dann endlich Emily wiedertreffen kann, die inzwischen ein Zoogeschäft hat. Ob sie Paul wirklich geliebt hat und mit ihm zusammen leben wollte, wie sie es im Brief gleich nach dem ersten Treffen schrieb? Wir werden diese Frage nicht mit Sicherheit beantworten können, dafür aber Zeuge werden, dass sie Paul die Grabstelle verkauft, an der der Roman sein Ende findet. ---Spoiler Ende --- Diese kurze Inhaltsangabe vorweg geschickt dürfte unschädlich sein, denn ICELAND ist vieles, aber bestimmt kein Spannungsroman. Es ist ein so eigenwilliges, schräg-schrilles skurriles absurdes Büchlein, dass ich kaum hilfreiche Vergleiche finde. Der erste fiel mir interessanterweise dann aus dem Bereich des Films ein. Guy Maddins Doku-Fantasie „MY WINNIPEG“ (Maddin ist einer meiner Lieblingsregisseure; wer auf schräge Filme steht und Maddin nicht kennt, sollte sich unbedingt bei Gelegenheit einen seiner Filme anschauen) kam mir in den Sinn, vielleicht um die liebenswerteren Elemente von SOUTH PARK bereichert. Murakami und Yoko Ogawa waren die ersten literarischen Namen, die mir in den Sinn kamen. Aber warum überhaupt Vergleiche? Aus schierer Hilflosigkeit, denn ICELAND ist ein so sonderbares Buch, dass eine sachliche Beschreibung nicht nur schwer, sondern auch wenig hilfreich wäre. Es ist stellenweise urkomisch, dann wieder ernüchternd depressiv; immer skurril und überquellend vor witzig-absurden Einfällen. Als ich das Buch aus der Hand legte und mich fragte, was ich gerade gelesen hatte, wurde mir bewusst, dass sich hinter dieser über lange Strecken scheinbar oberflächlichen und linear erzählten Geschichte eine Frage verbirgt, die so alt und abgeschmackt ist, dass es ein genialer Schachzug von Jim Krusoe war, sie hinter einem scheinbar ziellos durchs Leben mäandernden Protagonisten zu verstecken, der noch dazu ausschließlich auf sich selbst fixiert und wenig liebenswert ist. Sie lautet: Was machen wir aus unserem Leben? Was hat Paul aus seinem Leben gemacht? Er hat Schreibmaschinen repariert, und das hatte auch sein Gutes, hat es doch schließlich seinen Aufenthalt im Gefängnis verkürzen können (und wo vorhin schon von Filmen die Rede war: gerade gestern habe ich wieder Cronenbergs „NAKED LUNCH“ gesehen. Wie hätte Bill seine Berichte aus der Interzone verfassen sollen, wenn er nicht immer wieder an eine neue Schreibmaschine gekommen wäre bzw. eine alte hätte repariert werden können?). Überhaupt gibt es in diesem Buch eine Ansammlung seltener Berufe. Leo verbringt seine Berufszeit auf Händen und Knien, er ist Teppichreiniger. Greta macht Führungen auf isländische Vulkane (gleich bei ihrer allerersten Führung stirbt Leo und sie bekommt ein lebenslanges Berufsverbot); Sally ist Pianisten, hat aber eine krankhafte Angst, öffentlich aufzutreten. Emily kümmert sich erst um Organe, dann um Kleintiere. Pauls Obsession ist Emily, die er wiedersehen und mit der er leben will; eine Obsession, der er eigentümlich umschweifig nachgegangen ist, so dass ich zu sagen geneigt bin, dass er sie bei jeder denkbaren Gelegenheit aus den Augen verloren hat, um später wieder auf sie zurück kommen zu können. Paul ist ein passiver Held (gibt es solche Helden?), dem sein Lebenslauf bzw. Schicksal immer wieder zuhilfe kommt, um selbst nicht allzu aktiv werden zu müssen. Paul fügt sich in das und begnügt sich mit dem, was sich auf seiner Suche nach Emily ergibt. Dabei gelingt es ihm nicht, aufrichtiges Interesse an anderen Menschen zu entwickeln und an das alltägliche Leben anzudocken. Überhaupt scheint mir unklar, in welchem Maße er auf sein Leben Einfluss nehmen möchte. Wieviel steckt von Bartleby in ihm, dessen Verweigerungshaltung vor nichts halt macht? Pauls Ziellosigkeit und sein Desinteresse sind schmerzhaft und werden durch die Skurrilität der Geschichte erst erträglich. ICELAND ist unterhaltsam und kurzweilig, und doch wirft es Fragen auf, die erst dann ihre volle Kraft entfalten, wenn das Buch schon zugeklappt ist und der Leser sich fragt: Was habe ich da gerade gelesen?

  4. 4 out of 5

    andeeeeee

    one of the weirdest, most beautiful, and most romantic books i've ever read. a man is sent to a clinic to pick out a new internal organ, he immediately falls in love with the bikini clad woman paid to swim in the pool where the organs are kept, to make sure the organs remain stimulated and as hard as it may be to believe, it gets weirder from there. The rest of the story involves volcanos, piano bars, death, betrayal, sadness, marriage, children and of course prison, but it all started with a bi one of the weirdest, most beautiful, and most romantic books i've ever read. a man is sent to a clinic to pick out a new internal organ, he immediately falls in love with the bikini clad woman paid to swim in the pool where the organs are kept, to make sure the organs remain stimulated and as hard as it may be to believe, it gets weirder from there. The rest of the story involves volcanos, piano bars, death, betrayal, sadness, marriage, children and of course prison, but it all started with a bikini clad woman swimming in a pool full of internal organs. Wow.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Iceland is an absurd and phantasmagorical novel that centers around a decades-long infatuation with Emily, an employee he meets tending the pre-transplant organs in a swimming pool when he is sent to look for a new one. Unfortunately, while it has all of the lightness and strangeness of a dream, it also lacks a coherent meaning. Yes, it's about a man who suffers more officially or literally of a broken heart, but it's otherwise a little empty.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Blythe

    Its sort of like a weird dream where everything is sort of real but there are mysterious human organs in a swimming pool and dude lamenting about bumping uglies with their caretaker. For the entire book. My dreams are more interesting, and I would only give them 2 stars also.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Jim Krusoe is one of my favorite living writers - and you can gather by my list, there is not that many livin' authors on it. Saying that, I like how Krusoe plays with the sturcture of the narrative as well as as his wit that I find very freshing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Reema

    It would have made a better movie than Land Ho, which I'm currently unable to watch because this book is popping all over my mind.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I've gone back and forth on what to rate this one. Really it's probably about 2.5 stars, but for nicety sake I'm rounding up. There was much about Krusoe's style that I liked; however, the story was entirely unrealistic and not in a fun way.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Gruber

    Krusoe's books are always fun and weird. Interesting characters and a crazy story. Not quite as good as his others but still really entertaining

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is surreal Literary Fiction that sometimes goes a little overboard with those capitalized descriptors. The main character gets quite caught up in details and repeatedly misses the big picture, coming across as an obtuse obsessive. He passes quickly -- like, one sentence -- over the horrible death of his traveling companion, but spends pages describing mundane plans and meals and conversations. The effect is to skew reality and if you can accept that universe, it's a well-written and interes This is surreal Literary Fiction that sometimes goes a little overboard with those capitalized descriptors. The main character gets quite caught up in details and repeatedly misses the big picture, coming across as an obtuse obsessive. He passes quickly -- like, one sentence -- over the horrible death of his traveling companion, but spends pages describing mundane plans and meals and conversations. The effect is to skew reality and if you can accept that universe, it's a well-written and interesting romp. I can't imagine who I would recommend it to. R checked it out after we met the author at a dinner party and he wanted to get to know him better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Sometimes I'll get to the end of a book, and I get almost nervous, worried about how it's going to end. In the best cases, this worry turns to something like relief at the last word, the conclusion exactly what I hoped it would be, which is of course something unpredictable but seemingly inevitable. Iceland manages to maintain its endearing absurdity and slightly left of real narrative to the very last word. It's such a broad story told in almost a cursory manner. Despite its obvious existential Sometimes I'll get to the end of a book, and I get almost nervous, worried about how it's going to end. In the best cases, this worry turns to something like relief at the last word, the conclusion exactly what I hoped it would be, which is of course something unpredictable but seemingly inevitable. Iceland manages to maintain its endearing absurdity and slightly left of real narrative to the very last word. It's such a broad story told in almost a cursory manner. Despite its obvious existential influences, it is emotionally moving, an original look at opportunities taken and missed, and a rumination on the nature of second chances.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David

    An odd little book, but funny and unpredictable. Krusoe's narrator's voice is charming and matter-of-fact, and the novel captures a quiet sense of melancholy that rings true. A recommended effort, especially as it accomplishes these feats in only 182 pages, thoroughly avoiding the modern American novel's usual bloat. (And can I also just say how much I love Dalkey Archive Press, and the quality of its books, and the quirkiness of its catalog? Lovely. This edition is particularly nice, with an eleg An odd little book, but funny and unpredictable. Krusoe's narrator's voice is charming and matter-of-fact, and the novel captures a quiet sense of melancholy that rings true. A recommended effort, especially as it accomplishes these feats in only 182 pages, thoroughly avoiding the modern American novel's usual bloat. (And can I also just say how much I love Dalkey Archive Press, and the quality of its books, and the quirkiness of its catalog? Lovely. This edition is particularly nice, with an elegant font and slightly cream-toned pages.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erin Beck

    Paul Constant compares every book he reviews in the stranger to this book. It was ok, but you can tell written by a very young author. It was a bit too simple, too many cultural references that will become outdated. What I did like is how years are skipped over in a sentence. The main character meets a girl, sleeps with her - the next sentence is - 6 years later we were married with 2 kids. this made the author able to fit the whole man's life into 200 pages rather tha 600.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Levi

    I don't even know how to begin to describe this book. It is bizarre, surreal, awkward, hilarious and touching all at once (or in rapid succession, at least). I happened to also get Krusoe's Girl Factory from the library at the same time, so I'm looking forward to delving into that next. His is without a doubt a unique literary voice that I'm glad to have found.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Felton

    Reading this reminded me of A.M. Homes' This Book Will Save Your Life. It has the same matter-of-fact storytelling style and the same surreal, impossible events that become believable and logical as a result of Krusoe's ability to create realism and truth out of coincidence and implausibility. I loved it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    This is probably the weirdest book I have ever read, but it does make you think about fate, infatuation etc. I can't recommend it due to the sexual references which are random, completely inappropriate, and do not add to the plotline other than to make you think the author is disturbed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    I read this book while taking Jim Krusoe's fiction writing courses at Santa Monica College. It combines two genres you don't see often, sci-fi and romance. One of the most unique takes on the the ability to find a lasting love I've ever read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I actually gave up on this book after less than 50 pages. It was just so poorly written, boring, unbelievable, and self-indulgent. I find it hard to believe the author is an instructor at a college.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Day

    What?????

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    Weird and beautiful.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janalyn Guo

    heart this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Lots of fun reading him spoofing Murakami. Can't forgive the non-ending, though, which made me want to throw the book across the room - again, just like Murakami.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I had fun reading this. It was really good.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This book is really weird.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jason Walker

    Clever and strange and still very readable. This became one of my favorite books in 2003. I just found myself reminiscing about it this weekend. It may someday be on my list of all time favorites.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    strange, lovely...but i never became fully engaged by it. now i have to move on to school books. goodbye fiction!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Love dipatri

    Weird. Funny. Deftly written. Strangely moving. Impossible to put this one in a box.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben Rameaka

    A good impulse buy if ever there was one.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sean Lovelace

    Whimsical and kick ass. A bit Murakami.

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