The Fish Can Sing

The Fish Can Sing

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Fish Can Sing 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
HoustonTXreader More than 1 year ago
Tender, touching, coming-of-age story, wonderful book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this novel and I was very pleased. Halldor writes very nicely, he shares some of the traits of the Icelandic people. He also deals with profound issues that grow organically from the first scenes. I started to read the begining and found the connection between front and back
wandering_star on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an episodic tale of a boy growing up in an Iceland which is still very traditional, but starting to be affected by the outside world. It manages to combine the cadences of a storytelling tradition with a dry humour (one of the episodes starts, "I have now said something about fish, but I have not said anything yet about the Bible". At first I thought this was going to be about the coming clash between tradition and modernity, and I suppose that is one of the underlying themes, but ultimately it turns into a sort of morality tale - all illustrating, as the grandmother says, that "Slow good luck is best". If I have a criticism, it's that - because the story was episodic - there wasn't much narrative pull - so that once I put the book down, I didn't rush to pick it up again. But when I did pick it up, its charm drew me in again quickly.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was was enchanted by the story of Alfgrimur, a young orphan growing up in a fishing village near Reykjavik. Alfgrimur is happy in the home of an elderly man and woman he calls grandfather and grandmother. His uncertain origins don't seem to bother him. When he discovers he has an aptitude for music, he is satisfied to develop his talent for his own pleasure. He dreams of nothing more than becoming a fisherman like his grandfather. Will his encounter with opera singer Gardar Holm, Iceland's most famous native and some sort of distant relation to Alfgrimar, change his perspective?Iceland is as much character as location in this story. While Alfgrimar is discovering his identity on a personal level, Iceland is discovering its national identity. During the time of the story, Iceland is still under Danish rule. Some of the Icelanders in the book seem to view themselves as the ¿country cousins¿ of the more sophisticated Danes. Will Iceland embrace its cultural traditions, or exchange them for those of their ¿city cousins'?Although this book isn't considered magical realism, it reminded me of the few books I've read from that genre, particularly Midnight's Children and One Hundred Years of Solitude. If you've read and enjoyed either of those books, you might want to give this one a try.
A_musing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Is this book really simultaneously comparable to Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and Einhard's "Life of Charlemagne"? Somehow, yes. Laxness twists together some very odd strands of modernism and pastorlism, of novel and chronicle, resulting in a distinctive, thoughtful, and deeply entertaining book. The warp of the book is a boy growing up in a quiet but eclectic Icelandic fishing village, the weft is a mysterious and troubled relative whose periodic return from the broader world stirs the old pot. The two are woven together in a way that seems to show first one pattern, then another, then yet a third. I can think of no coming of age story that so deftly explores that strange world between reality, perception and perspective, as a boy, growing up, learns a bit more about the world but still, of course, not everything. The mystery remains, however much it may have been explored and challenged. All told with Laxness' dry, wry sense of humor. This book deserves to be as canonical as Joyce's Portrait of the Artist, about the only book I can think of comparable to it in subject, scope, ambition and success. Throughout this read, I just kept saying, "it's getting even better." And, of course, I kept laughing aloud.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the surface, this is a coming-of-age story of a young orphan, Álfgrímur, being raised by foster "grand-parents" who are poor in a material sense but rich in friends and spirit. Alongside that, you sense that this is also a coming-of-age story of Iceland, itself—a puberty that is making many bad choices, but occurring nonetheless.This book fools you. The several story lines seem like unconnected sketches: Álfgrímur's desire to be a lumpfisherman, his love of singing, his odd relationship with his relative, the mysterious and reclusive opera singer, Gardar Holm, all seem to be simple scenes in the story of his childhood. This isn't an unpleasant experience; Laxness' warm and simple presentation, reminding me of a folk tale, paints a dryly humorous picture of a large cast of colorful and interesting characters, gives us many amusing anecdotes, and slyly pokes fun at everything from government to proper manners to Eastern religion.As the book draws to its close, however, we find those story threads weaving together into a larger story line, a satisfying morality tale about what is valuable in life, about the disappointing nature of pride and fame.Distinctive, thoughtful, never trite—a real find.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago