Valentines: Stories

Olaf Olafsson, Author . Pantheon $23 (216p) ISBN 978-0-375-42468-7

Icelandic émigré novelist Olafsson (Absolution ) offers a grim look at chilled middle-aged marriage in 12 stories titled after the months of the year. Olafsson delivers the basic facts of a situation or marriage in a monotonous, uninflected prose that is, in its portentous flatness, utterly compelling. His characters, most hailing from Icelandic stock and thoroughly assimilated into American life, suffer from severely impacted emotion that threatens, when gently triggered, to spew volcanically. Tomas, the bland, typically diffident protagonist of "January," contacts his former live-in girlfriend after 10 years during an overnight flight delay in New York, finding to his shock and dismay that Maureen is sick and probably dying. While he might make amends for his previous emotional cowardice, his instinct is to flee. In "June," a controlling father's disappointment at his daughter's marriage to a gutless American doctor (rather than a firm, outdoorsy Icelander) leads to a weirdly Freudian set of maneuverings by both father and son-in-law. And in several pieces, an old, undisclosed affair resurfaces after decades to haunt a marriage, leading one wife ("August") to mutter upon her husband's revelations of early unfaithfulness: "It was all built on sand." Olafsson's Nordic realism à la Bergman holds a ghastly fascination. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/04/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Paperback - 164 pages - 978-1-935006-06-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-91550-4
Paperback - 244 pages - 978-3-639-31019-1
Paperback - 40 pages - 978-3-640-51487-8
Paperback - 978-1-4037-5322-9
Paperback - 222 pages - 978-3-8423-5360-2
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-4344-3046-5
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 281 pages - 978-981-08-8173-3
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-9801974-7-1
Hardcover - 222 pages - 978-0-615-38405-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-0166-3
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-8144-2005-8
Paperback - 714 pages - 978-1-241-52081-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-3142-4
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-9826353-4-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-3167-7
Paperback - 752 pages - 978-0-07-163482-3
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-0-9830853-1-7
Paperback - 467 pages - 978-1-61663-736-1
Show other formats
FORMATS
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X