The Boy Who Never Was

Book - 2017
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The mind-bending miniature historical epic is Sjón's specialty, and Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is no exception. But it is also Sjón's most realistic, accessible, and heartfelt work yet. It is the story of a young man on the fringes of a society that is itself at the fringes of the world--at what seems like history's most tumultuous, perhaps ultimate moment.

Máni Steinn is queer in a society in which the idea of homosexuality is beyond the furthest extreme. His city, Reykjavik in 1918, is homogeneous and isolated and seems entirely defenseless against the Spanish flu, which has already torn through Europe, Asia, and North America and is now lapping up on Iceland's shores. And if the flu doesn't do it, there's always the threat that war will spread all the way north. And yet the outside world has also brought Icelanders cinema! And there's nothing like a dark, silent room with a film from Europe flickering on the screen to help you escape from the overwhelming threats--and adventures--of the night, to transport you, to make you feel like everything is going to be all right. For Máni Steinn, the question is whether, at Reykjavik's darkest hour, he should retreat all the way into this imaginary world, or if he should engage with the society that has so soundly rejected him.

Publisher: New York :, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,, 2017
Edition: First American paperback edition
Copyright Date: ♭2016
ISBN: 9780374536923
Characteristics: 147 pages
Additional Contributors: Cribb, Victoria


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Dec 25, 2018

Set in 1918 Iceland, there is a dream-like quality to the narrative of this short book where an adolescent boy conjures a reality coloured by the flickering shadows of characters and stories from the local cinema. The opening poem is a foreshadowing of the surprising and somewhat poignant ending.

Feb 11, 2018

One of the most unusual stories I have ever read. I am not sure what the author was trying to accomplish, but he does succeed at making a cohesive story (which I write because he is known for being an experimental writer, and so I almost expected an introspective mess). This is notable because it shows life in Iceland between the world wars and during the Spanish flu.

Jun 13, 2017

This slight novel is too ambitious to succeed at any theme.

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