Sunday, January 28, 2007

Puffin and whale and cormorant

I want to go to Iceland.

And this is the perfect opportunity to mention a demented CD that has arrived recently at my place, part of a belated northern-themed Christmas present from Nico: I haven't listened to it yet properly (as with many of the more interesting things I have round here it doesn't really seem suitable for listening to at the gym), but it's Jon Leifs's Hekla and other orchestral works (the Amazon reviews for that one are particularly delightful--a volcano is prominently involved, it's all very Icelandic). It was accompanied by Simon Boswell's The Seven Symphonies: A Finnish Murder Mystery, an extraordinarily strange book that combines a Smilla-type murder mystery set in Helsinski with a series of lectures about the life and achievements of Sibelius (here's the author's website for the book, which gives some of its unusual flavor).

I am entirely in thrall to the idea of the frozen north.

My longtime obsession is the Hans Christian Andersen story The Snow Queen, which provides both title and basic story-line for my sequel to Dynamite No. 1. I am annoyed to realize that I have made no further progress towards visiting an Ice Hotel!

(On a related note, I was reflecting recently--one of those weird nineteenth-century anthropological moments, I guess--on the fact that of all the places I've ever visited the one where I felt most genetically at home [i.e. not the place I loved the most or felt the most welcomed--that, I think, would have to be Moscow, thanks to the loveliness of my friend T.'s friends there] was Copenhagen, I felt in an appealing way as though I blended in on the street as coming from the same genetic stock. Is that weird? It's true, though, and it wasn't the case in Stockholm or Amsterdam either, though you might think it would be more or less the same thing.)


  1. A friend went to Iceland last year for Spring Break on a cheap fare and came back much poorer - apparently things are very very expensive there (eg. a pizza cost $50).

  2. I'm definitely going to track down Boswell's Seven Symphonies. If you're interested in another fictional depiction of Sibelius, see William R. Trotter's Winter Fire, in which you will also learn probably more than you wanted about combat on the Finnish sector of the Russian Front in World War II.