A beguiling and witty assessment of a country’s obsessive urge to curate.



A quirky, personal travel guide to some of the offbeat sites that Iceland has to offer.

Greene, who has worked at several museums, joyfully recounts her experiences in Iceland, a country of 330,000 people, visiting 28 of their 265 museums, most “established in the last twenty years.” In this debut memoir, the author writes that she’s never “known a place where the boundaries between private collection and public museum are so profoundly permeable, so permissive, so easily transgressed and so transparent as if almost not to exist.” Some, in fact, don’t exist—e.g., the title museum. There’s an air of Italo Calvino’s fantastical Invisible Cities wafting its way throughout, as Greene guides us with childlike wonder through such museums as “Sverrir Hermannsson’s Sundry Collection,” the “Herring Era Museum,” “The Museum of Prophecies,” and the “Icelandic Sea Monster Museum.” First up is the Icelandic Phallological Museum, a “kind of mammal-phallus Noah’s Ark,” where visitors can gaze upon penises of duck, ocean perch, polar bears, and other domestic and foreign animals. On one wall there’s a “lovely installation,” Our Silver Boys, which the author describes as “fifteen silver casts representing the Icelandic national handball team, stood upright like thriving mushrooms.” Petra’s Stone Collection, picked by herself and family members near their home, is outside, for all to see. Greene’s story is not just about the museums, but also about the people who create their individualistic collections and their families, who often keep them and a small cafe or gift shop going. Greene tantalizes us with a visit to the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, formerly a hardware store, curated by Siggi, or the Sorcerer, which displays whips, life-size facsimiles of outlandish Icelandic necropants (pants made from a dead man’s skin) and 11 installations. “Ten,” Greene writes, “if you fail to count the invisible boy.”

A beguiling and witty assessment of a country’s obsessive urge to curate.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-14-313546-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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