From Iceland — Sour Grapes And Stuff

Sour Grapes And Stuff

Published February 6, 2012

Sour Grapes And Stuff

Dear Bart Cameron,
I will attach “Laxness in Naples”. The old bard is still on the move.
Best regards,
Niels Hav
Laxness in Naples
In Naples I chanced upon Halldór Laxness.  It was strange,
because he had died that spring.  He smiled, delighted
beneath his newly-trimmed moustache and walked quickly through
the spacious room, an unostentatious restaurant
with white tableclothes near Piazza Garibaldi.
He seemed in good health, dressed in light pants
and a plaid tweed jacket, just like the photos
from Iceland in the fifties.  He sat down at a table occupied
by a woman and a man, and the three of them spoke spiritedly
to each other in Italian, while the waiter served wine
and various courses for them; first pasta,
then fish, bread and salad.
Halldór Laxness ate with gusto,
his laughter braying, and he waw engaged in the conversation.
That pleased me, I had heard he’d grown senile and,
besides, he was dead.
When their meal was almost over, I felt like
going over to say hello, tell him how glad I was
to see him hale and well.  But I lacked the words,
and perhaps he wouldn’t like being recognized
in a strange country, now that he was dead.
Instead I listened intensely to their conversation,
when suddenly I managed to catch an utterly
clear reply:  “The God of humans is of varying greatness,
just like they are,” Laxness said.  “Small people have small gods,
and the small-minded look in vain
for Him in a microscope.”  He laughed heartily.
In the end the two Italians got up from the table.
The woman gave a little speech, while she brought out a parcel,
the size of a book and gave it to Halldór Laxness.
He opened the parcel with great care.
It turned out to contain a pair or socks, possibly silk.
Haldór Laxness was moved, tears welled in his eyes,
and he said something in a soft slurred voice.  I couldn’t
make out every word, but his Italian was beautiful,
and I understood him to say:  “Thank you,
that is a good gift.  And it’s not even
my birthday!”
© Niels Hav
Transleted by P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen
Dear Niels Hav,
Thank you! This is just beautiful, it really is. Enjoy your meal and send more!

Hey Grapevine!

Like the great Gil Scott-Heron once said: I’m new here. Been around a couple of months now and quite enjoying it. Like most of the music, been able to make friends at the bars and clubs although I often wish there was one quiet bar there where you could talk to people instead of nodding your head at them over the loud music and I got a nice place to stay. Complaints are the regular, everything is expensive and people can be cold, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with. I’ve a feeling this winter will be good for me. I even love all the snow!
You guys have been a great resource ever since I first thought about coming. I might even have gotten the idea from reading an article of yours for all I know. I like the news and the music coverage along with the variety of articles even though not all of it is interesting to me. There is one thing that I think you’re lacking however and this is ME! I would love to contribute to your fine publication. What do I do? How do I go on about it? Do I get paid?
Also it would be great if you could make me letter of the month so I can go eat that banquet. Btw what is up with Bakkus? Its been closed the last few times Ive gone by there.
El Scorcho

Dear El,

thank you so very much for your letter, and your kind words. It’s cool to know we might have inspired you to come over, lord knows we need more people over here. Lots and lots more people, so we can one day win the Olympics and Eurovision (strength in numbers and all that).  
Also, it’s great that you want to contribute! If it’s one thing we can always use more of, it’s writers, photographers illustrators and people that can make that’s worth printing or publishing on-line. You don’t specify whether you’re a writer or videographer or whatnot (if you’re good at making videos you should definitely be in touch—we would love featuring more video content!) but the answers are sort of the same for everyone. Read on:  
Firstly, you need to contact our fancy new Managing Editor, Anna Andersen, by emailing Tell her you want to contribute. She gets lots of emails, so it’s a good idea to keep your missives brief and to the point (preferably containing one or more direct questions that can be answered (without needing to be inferred first)).
If you’re interested in writing something, why not include an idea for a story in your letter, along with a brief explanation of how you would execute it and how much space you would need (this is called ‘a pitch’).  Including a writing sample isn’t a bad idea; if nothing else make sure your pitch letter is sort of properly spelled and mostly coherent. If you can’t write a proper email when applying for a writing job… well…
If your idea is good and we can read through your letter without wanting to tear our eyes out, we will in turn send your our submission guidelines (mostly stuff about formatting and spelling). We will also assign you a rough wordcount and a deadline to work with (and offer help with any resources you might need to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish).
We pay all of our contributors as much as we can, which unfortunately doesn’t amount to a lot. Do not expect to make a living freelancing for the Grapevine. Think of it more as extra beer money. First time submissions generally get paid less (and if we wind up not printing your article for whatever reason, we will pay you a small ‘kill fee’—don’t worry, we’ll publish almost anything unless it’s like total BS. Sometimes we might even print that too because FUN!).
If you’re not a writer (but like a photographer or whatever), you should still send us an email. Tell us what you want to accomplish, send samples of your work and be cool. We will get back to you.
As for Bakkus: it’s moved to Laugavegur!

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