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
Inspired By Iceland. For Real

Inspired By Iceland. For Real

by

In Southsea, Portsmouth, UK, where Castle Road meets Kent Road, you’ll find 101 Reykjavík, a cosy Icelandic café. Huh? An Icelandic café? Yup. There is such a thing. 101 Reykjavík (the café, not the postal code, novel or film) is indeed an Icelandic café in Portsmouth that the owners say is inspired by the ambiance of Icelandic cafés and bars. At 101 Reykjavík, you can chow down on some Icelandic hot dogs or kleinur while sipping on Icelandic beers and listening to Icelandic music. You can do all this in Southsea, the southernmost tip of the city of Portsmouth, on

Mag
Interview
Does Spain Have It All Wrong?

Does Spain Have It All Wrong?

by

Èric Lluent is a journalist from Barcelona, Spain who recently published a book, ‘Iceland 2013: A Story Of Deception,’ about the illusion and the reality of the Pots and Pans Revolution of late 2008 and early 2009 and its aftermath. Èric, who first came to Iceland in 2008, believed at first in the “Icelandic Miracle” of grassrooots democratic change. However, in talking to Icelanders, he learned that the myth and the reality of Iceland’s “revolution” were two very different things. The Grapevine caught up with Èric to get him to expand upon some of the major points brought up in his book.

Mag
Interview
World-Historical Monuments Recycled As Furniture

World-Historical Monuments Recycled As Furniture

by

Jóhann Sigmarsson has been some sort of a legend since at least the early nineties when he premiered his first feature film, Veggfóður (Wallpaper) (1992). Co-written by Jóhann, or Jonni as he is known, and director Júlíus Kemp, the film focused on parties, magic mushrooms and sexual attraction. Jonni’s later cinematic endeavours include One Big Family (1995) and Plan B (2000), both of which which he wrote and directed. On its own, the mere fact that he has succeeded in making three feature-length films, while establishing and running what used to be Iceland’s only short-film festival, bears witness to a

Mag
Interview
Images Make Music More Tangible

Images Make Music More Tangible

by

How important is the visual aspect to how a band or artists presents itself? Is it a necessary factor, or more of an afterthought? Speaking as a fan of music, I would say that the visual aspect always gives some hint of the thought behind a project. The visuals often present an angle on a given project, an entry point to it maybe, an attempt to position it in a visual dimension and context. As a musician, I find it necessary to add a visual touch to what’s being presented—the exterior needs to be interesting as well as the interior,

Mag
Interview
Dominique Believes

Dominique Believes

by

Dominique Lameule is a self-confessed, bona-fide Icelandophile. The 38-year-old Frenchman-slash-German has travelled to Iceland at least once or twice per year for twelve years running, owns upwards of 180 albums of Icelandic music, and has attended the Airwaves festival more often than most locals. Like many an Icelandophile we’ve encountered at Grapevine through the years, Dominique’s interest was spurred by exposure to a local band or artist—in Dominique’s case, it was the Gusgus hit “Believe” that entranced him back in ’97 (by now, he proudly counts members of that very band as his friends). As an outsider constantly looking in

Mag
Interview
Ilan Has (not quite) Left The Building

Ilan Has (not quite) Left The Building

by

The corridors in the basement of the decadent 19th-century masterpiece of architecture that is London’s Royal Albert Hall are teeming with musicians and hangers-on. The anticipatory energy is palpable as the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (ISO) gets ready to take the stage as a part of the BBC Proms. The BBC Proms is a series of concerts held in this legendary hall in west London, and the festival is widely considered one of the more important events in the classical music calendar. This makes tonight’s excitement all the more understandable, as the ISO will be appearing on this fabled stage for

Show Me More!