Mag
Interview
Scenes from the Road: Einar Kárason

Scenes from the Road: Einar Kárason

Published April 4, 2008

On Cars “I consider myself very lucky to have witnessed both the rise and fall of the petrol fuel age,” says author Einar Kárason behind the wheel of his Chrysler PT Cruiser. “We have not witnessed any real advances in this technology for 100 years, and now it has become obsolete. But it is a wonderful way to travel.”
His love of cars, American cars in particular, was passed on from his father, a man who spent his life on the road, driving big-rigs and taxis for a living. A man who once refused to pick Einar up from Keflavík Airport in his mother’s Fiat. “My father never considered cars to be cars unless they were American or perhaps German. Anything else he considered to be shopping carts.”
On Writing Einar Kárason is a writer. Or rather, as we agree to put it, he has not done an honest day’s work in 25 years. His first published work was a book of poetry in 1979. In 1983 his first book in the Devil’s Island trilogy appeared and cemented his place as one of the most prominent Icelandic writers of his generation. “I only have one rule when I am writing. I write the first chapter last,” Einar explains. “You have to know the whole story before you start.”
On Selfoss We are driving towards Selfoss where we will stop for coffee before hitting the road again. Our trip is an exercise in futility. There is no destination; there is only the journey. And our conversation. We discuss Werner Herzog’s films, James Conrad’s books and what makes a beautiful car. Also, Einar tells me he does not care for horses.
On 13th Century Einar is writing a historical novel that takes place in the 13th century. It is his second book about that era. “The 13th century was a lot like the 20th century. It was a time of change, and a time of great prosperity. Iceland was very rich with culture at the time. Of course, there was a civil war raging through that whole century. “
On the Road Cars figure prominently in many of Einar’s books. So does the road: “That book was the result of our mutual admiration of Kerouac’s On the Road,” says Einar about a travelogue he cowrote with author Ólafur Gunnarsson about a road trip across the US in an old Cadillac. Two days after our trip to Selfoss, Einar is heading for Boston to drive around New England for two weeks. “I went on a Greyhound bus trip to Minnesota in 1982 to do research. It was too exotic for me to write about unless I experienced it, so I bought a ticket with the advance for my first book. I lived in a trailer park.”
On Crime Novels “When you write a novel, you are ultimately playing with variations of things you have seen or heard,” Einar says. Although crime fiction has proved to be a lucrative field for Icelandic writers, he has no intention of writing a detective story. “To me, the difference between writing a novel and writing a detective story is the same as the difference between writing a poem and writing a crossword puzzle. In both cases you are working with metaphors and words, but it is a completely different line of work.”
On Gljúfrasteinn We decide on a different route on our way back. We will pass through Þingvellir and make a stop at Gljúfrasteinn, the house of Nobel Prize winning author Halldór Laxness, where we marvel at the diminutive kitchen and gaze in wonder at the thousands of books Laxness kept. Einar admires the many different translations of Laxness’ works. I ask the caretaker how many languages there are: “42.” I ask Einar how many languages his books are available in. He looks up and smiles a little. “I think I’m up to 12.”
On Fame Einar does a lot of readings from his work. Once he was asked to read at his old secondary school. “I met one of my old teachers there. He said: ‘30 years ago, who would have believed that one day you’d be asked to come back?’ That made me laugh.”
Einar Kárason has written ten novels, collections of short stories, poetry screenplays, memoirs and biographies. Translations of his works are available in English, German, French, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and other languages.



Mag
Interview
<?php the_title(); ?>

Pylsuspjall: The Best of Reykjavík

by

Today’s Topic: The Best of Reykjavík Welcome to our sixth edition of Pylsuspjall, a feature in which we accost strangers at the Bæjarins Beztu hot dog stand and ask them questions. This time we brave the shitty weather to ask them what they like about Reykjavík. What’s your name? Zhang Xiauying Where are you from? Beijing, China What do you do for a living? I just graduated from medical school, so I’m going to be a doctor in China. What do you think makes these hot dogs so good? I’m not sure. The place just showed up when I googled

Mag
Interview
<?php the_title(); ?>

For A Better Society

by

It seems that in every mention of Icelandic women by the foreign media, Iceland is praised as a feminist utopia where women are completely equal to men on all fronts, and to a certain extent, these assertions are correct. Iceland had the world’s first female head of state (who happened to also be an unmarried mother, for what it’s worth). It generally has greater female participation in politics than most other developed countries. A report by Save The Children ranked Iceland as the fourth best place to be a mother, and The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report has

Mag
Interview
<?php the_title(); ?>

What Brings Face Hunter To Town?

by

Yvan Rodic hasn’t been in the same place for more than two weeks in the last five years. He says he takes an average 170 flights per year. He’s like George Clooney in ‘Up In The Air,’ except he’s a tall, Swiss-born fashionista who travels the world doing something far more benign. The photographer better known as Face Hunter documents street style via his blog, which reportedly gets a million views per month. During his most recent four-day trip to Reykjavík, we met up at Boston for GusGus’s jam-packed album release party. We found a table in the far corner

Mag
Interview
<?php the_title(); ?>

What’s The Best Thing About Reykjavík In One Or Two Sentences?

by , and

Alda Sigmundsdóttir Author and blogger The first thing I think of is Grótta with the lighthouse, in Seltjarnarnes, near the golf course. It’s a really nice place to go for a walk, and just y’know, hang out and bicycle and to be outdoors. AND there is a little hot tub that’s carved into a rock. It’s just before you get to the lighthouse nature reserve. It’s behind the place where they store fish. Arnljótur Sigurðsson Musician The first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful mountain range that encircles the whole of Reykjavík. It is simply astonishing on a

Mag
Interview
<?php the_title(); ?>

It Doesn’t Matter What You’re Wearing

by

On April 3, 2011, the people of Toronto, Ontario, rose up in protest of Constable Michael Sanguinetti’s suggestion that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” if they want to avoid being raped. The event sparked international outrage, with SlutWalks springing up all over the world. María Lilja Þrastardóttir, who had gone through the harrowing experience of being raped followed by the humiliating process of reporting it to the police, organised the first Icelandic slut walk with four other women, three months after the original Toronto walk. This year’s ‘Drusluganga’ (“SlutWalk”), on July 26, starts like the others before it at

Mag
Interview
<?php the_title(); ?>

Pylsuspjall: Whaling In Iceland

by

Today’s Topic: Whaling In Iceland Welcome to our fifth edition of Pylsuspjall, a feature in which we accost strangers at the Bæjarins Beztu hot dog stand and ask them questions. This time we spoke with them in the pouring rain while their hot dogs got soggy. What’s your name? Ingimundur Guðjónsson Where are you from? Keflavík, Iceland What do you do for a living? I’m a security officer at Keflavík Airport. What do you think makes these hot dogs so good? I’m a security officer at Keflavík Airport. Describe Iceland in three words. Rainy. Chaotic. Sunny. Are you aware that

Show Me More!