Tuesday 22 January 2019

Book Review: Moonstone - The Boy Who Never Was by Sjón (LGBT/Historical/Literary Fiction)

Title: Moonstone - The Boy Who Never Was
Author: Sjón

Publication Date: 2017 (2013)
LGBT/Historical/Literary Fiction
Xmas Gift


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.

What I enjoy about Sjón's writing is his beautiful, lyrical blending of reality and fantasy. In Moonstone we see a tale unfolding in an historical setting, yet we never know for certain if what we are experiencing is real, or even if Máni himself truly exists in the world as we know it. I absolutely devoured this short novel. It was thought-provoking and poetical, and I loved every sentence of it. This is my second of Sjón's works, and I am excited to read more.

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