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A sometimes vivid yet uneven portrait of an artist’s many years traveling to and observing Iceland.

An American visual artist collects her writing from four decades of sojourns to Iceland.

Horn first traveled to Iceland in 1975 at age 19, and she has been drawn to the island ever since, as reflected in this combination of poetry, short essays, oral histories, architectural reviews, and environmental jeremiads. In the book’s first section, featuring pieces published in the 1990s, the author writes about what has kept her coming back: wild weather, uninterrupted horizons, and solitude—a holiday from “the friction of seeing and knowing.” Traveling by motorcycle, she camped in outbuildings and lighthouses, and she notes how Iceland’s lack of violence, reptiles, and large mammals was liberating for a traveling single woman. “Relief from fear is freedom,” she writes. Horn trains her artist’s eye on the country’s fantastic volcanic landscapes, black beaches and white surf, and hot springs found in every corner of the island. Sensually arresting, these passages are solitary meditations in an empty landscape; at times, readers long for someone else to show up. In the second section, the author offers a series of oral histories about the weather. These short installments, three pages at the most, are eloquent descriptions from ordinary people, testaments to the intricate dance between the islanders and their wild weather conditions: obliterating blizzards, relentless wind, and even incidents of freezing and drowning. A government commissioner calmly reports seeing spirits on his long walks through the lava fields, and older citizens express a generalized unease about climate change. The final sections feel padded: reprints of Horn’s environmental opinion pieces and meditations on specific island locations accompanied by images of previously published photographs that fail to illuminate the place. The first sections of the book will stoke the desire for a more in-depth study of Iceland; the others will interest veteran Iceland-watchers.

A sometimes vivid yet uneven portrait of an artist’s many years traveling to and observing Iceland.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-691-20814-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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The stormy career of a top Navy SEAL hotspur. Commander Marcinko, USN Ret., recently served time at Petersburg Federal Prison for conspiracy to defraud the Navy by overcharging for specialized equipment—the result, he says, of telling off too many admirals. It seems that his ornery and joyous aggression, nurtured by a Czech grandfather in a flinty Pennsylvania mining town, has brought him to grief in peace and to brilliance in war. Serving his first tour in Vietnam in 1966 as an enlisted SEAL expert in underwater demolition, Marcinko returned for a second tour as an officer leading a commando squad he had trained. Here, his accounts of riverine warfare—creeping underwater to Vietcong boats and slipping over their gunwales; raiding VC island strongholds in the South China Sea; steaming up to the Cambodian border to tempt the VC across and being overrun- -are galvanic, detailed, and told with a true craftsman's love. What did he think of the Vietcong? ``The bastards—they were good.'' His battle philosophy? ``...kill my enemy before he has a chance to kill me....Never did I give Charlie an even break.'' After the aborted desert rescue of US hostages in the Tehran embassy, Marcinko was ordered to create SEAL Team Six—a counterterrorist unit with worldwide maritime responsibilities. In 1983, the unit was deployed to Beirut to test the security of the US embassy there. Easily evading the embassy security detail, sleeping Lebanese guards, and the Marines, the SEALs planted enough fake bombs to level the building. When Marcinko spoke to ``a senior American official'' about the problem, the SEAL's blunt security advice was rejected, particularly in respect to car-bomb attacks. Ninety days later, 63 people in the embassy compound were killed by a suicide bomber driving a TNT-filled truck. Profane and asking no quarter: the real nitty-gritty, bloody and authentic. (Eight-page photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 2, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-70390-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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Great fun.

The second installment of childhood recollections (after Opposite the Cross Keys, 1988) by mystery writer S.T. Haymon, who here evokes a sheltered 12-year-old's further encounters with life's earthier side.

Haymon's 1920's, upper-middle-class childhood revolved typically around school, home, loyal servants, and a pair of doting, well-educated parents—until age 12, when her father died and her mother decided to move to London. Refusing to accompany her, the precocious, comically self-confident Sylvia tried to limit this series of upheavals by insisting on remaining in Norfolk in the care of a favorite teacher—except that at the last minute her headmistress (already a sworn enemy) switched houses, arranging for two maiden schoolteachers to put Sylvia up in their house instead. Sylvia knew that the Misses Gosse and Locke were eccentric. What she didn't know was that the skinny, aggressive history teacher and the teary, puppy-like math professor were lesbians. Nor did she notice as Miss Locke's increasingly desperate infatuation with her began to lead the entire household toward destruction. Amusing characters abound—the gardener, Sylvia's only ally, whose faith in the value of a virgin's tips on the horse races led him to pay her for advice; the dour housekeeper who sang opera and downed bottles of gin; the art teacher's model who bewildered Sylvia with talk of "randy old dykes"; and the spiritual channel who informed her that her daddy was watching everything she did from heaven. Haymon's depiction of herself as an unusually clever, frequently petulant, and thoroughly practical young girl obsessed with filling her stomach while all sorts of passionate fireworks exploded around her evokes an era when secrets still existed and scandals were bursting to happen—and makes for slyly humorous, very British entertainment.

Great fun.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 1990

ISBN: 312-04986-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

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