Icelander

Icelander

4.6 19
by Dustin Long
     
 

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Icelander is the debut novel from a brilliant new mind, an intricate, giddy romp steeped equally in Nordic lore and pulpy intrigue. When Shirley MacGuffin is found murdered one day prior to the annual town celebration in remembrance of Our Heroine’s mother –– the legendary crime-stopper and evil-thwarter Emily Bean –– everyone

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Overview

Icelander is the debut novel from a brilliant new mind, an intricate, giddy romp steeped equally in Nordic lore and pulpy intrigue. When Shirley MacGuffin is found murdered one day prior to the annual town celebration in remembrance of Our Heroine’s mother –– the legendary crime-stopper and evil-thwarter Emily Bean –– everyone expects Our Heroine to follow in her mother’s footsteps and solve the case. She, however, has no interest in inheriting the family business, or being chased through steam-tunnels, or listening to skaldic karaoke, or fleeing the inhuman Refurserkir. But evil has no interest in her lack of interest. A Nabokovian goof on Agatha Christie, a madcap mystery that is part The Third Policeman and part The Da Vinci Code, The Icelander is one thing above all else: a true original.

Editorial Reviews

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 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A debut work crammed with metatextual trickery, references to everything from Nabokov to Pynchon to Scandinavian mythology, and thickly ironic humor-a literary-gamesmanship machine kicked into overdrive. Long's first novel initially comes on like a murder mystery. Shirley MacGuffin had been editing a version of Hamlet, by Thomas Kyd, until she died-the day before Bean Day, a celebration honoring an adventurer who discovered the mythical Icelandic land of Vanaheim. Bean's daughter, Our Heroine-really, her name is Our Heroine-charges herself with solving Shirley's murder in the tourist-crammed town of New Cruiskeen, Penn., though she has to find her missing dog as well. Got all that? No matter. The book isn't so much a mystery as it is a goof on the genre, and Shirley isn't really a crucial character. (Hitchcock fans might have guessed that from Shirley's surname.) It is structured as a "discovered" novel, with an editor inserting persnickety and increasingly unhinged footnotes (just like Pale Fire), has a middle section with interior monologues by individual characters (just like As I Lay Dying) and includes a handsome male sidekick for Our Heroine, who eventually explains it all in the final pages (just like in a potboiler thriller). And just like most postmodern novels, it's exasperating and too clever by half-Long is so busy struggling to wade through a chin-high swamp of literary cataloguing that he has little energy left for anything resembling characterization, forcing the reader to keep track of a host of New Cruiskeen residents even while he asks you to reject conventional notions about plot. The book's most interesting and comic characters, in fact, are two of its most minor-Wible& Pacheco, a Rosenkrantz-and-Guildenstern-like dynamic duo of pretentiousness who roam the town as self-styled "philosophical investigators." The way the two get mocked for their pomposity suggests that Long knows how far off the deep end he's gone. But while the willful goofiness makes it somewhat more penetrable, it doesn't salvage it. An overcooked, incoherent stew of references.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781932416510
Publisher:
McSweeney's Publishing
Publication date:
04/28/2006
Pages:
249
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.00(d)

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