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Children in Reindeer Woods by Kristin…

Children in Reindeer Woods (2004)

by Kristin Ómarsdóttir

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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    The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Same feelings of loss and confusion

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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This is an anti-government, anti-war fable set in modern times. Though I can't say I truly enjoyed the book, it was definitely thought provoking. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Apr 5, 2014 |
I try to avoid stereotypes—positive or negative—especially cultural stereotypes. There are valid reasons sometimes why these stereotypes were assigned, but there are quite a few that were meant only to harm. That being said, I've tried to ignore that stigma of oddness placed on Icelanders. Sure an Internet search on famous Icelanders and Icelandic attractions may lead you to believe they're all a little strange, but surely they all cannot be, right?

Children in Reindeer Woods is odd. There may be some translation issues here, but largely I get the feeling that Ómarsdóttir is, how we say it... peculiar. That's cool, I'm down with odd. Bjork, Twin Peaks, Regina Spektor (she used to be weirder)--yeah, I like odd. I'm cultural except when I'm not. Like when I turn my head to the side, scrunch my face and say “I just don't get it.” As I type this, thinking about Children in Reindeer Woods, I have my head turned to the side, my face is scrunched and I'm thinking “I just didn't get it.” I understand some of what Ómarsdóttir may have been trying to accomplish, but much of it seemed like trying to be strange for the sake of being strange. Then again, maybe it was all issue with the translation.

I don't drink. I never have, not once, so my analogy may be ridiculous. But Reindeer Woods reminded me of stories I've heard about alcohol. It sounded really fun. I looked forward to it and the second I had a copy in my hands, I dove into it. It had its moments when it was good, but largely I was immediately overcome with a thought of “I have to finish this?” I wanted to be cool so I kept plugging away. Despite the headache I finished it. And you know what? I don't know what the hell happened. Sure, I remember a detail here, a detail there, but largely it's all a blur.

Reindeer Woods isn't bad, its just confusing (in its English form). It doesn't do anything miraculous or leave you feeling anything but boredom. It's like that movie... looking up name of movie... Northfork, that's it! Visually beautiful, well acted, but confusing. You have to respect the vision of the artists who come up with these pieces, and know it probably means a lot to them, but that doesn't make it enjoyable.

Sorry Iceland, but you're a strange little island. ( )
  chrisblocker | Mar 30, 2013 |
Children in Reindeer Woods is a darkly exotic tale by the Icelandic author, Kristin Omarsdottir. This is one of ten (10) foreign authors published yearly by the Open Letter Press via the University of Rochester. Their purpose is to expose influential international writers. These books can be ordered on: www.openletterbooks.org. They publish an amazing variety of authors. Readers are truly missing something if they have not explored these books. ( )
  BALE | Sep 14, 2012 |
The opening scene of Children in Reindeer Woods is one of sadly unsurprising violence – three soldiers arrive at a house and shoot and kill the inhabitants. One girl, Billie, survives but the other adults and children are killed. The next act of violence though is unexpected – one of the soldiers shoots the other two and buries all the bodies at the farm. Rafael, the murderer, decides to take up the life of a farmer and take care of Billie. Billie and Rafael gradually become accustomed to one another and are occasionally interrupted by various visitors to the farm. There’s always some underlying tension since we never quite know what Rafael’s going to do but the story as related by Billie is rather opaquely told. The prose flows smoothly and I read large chunks at time but was never fully engaged. Billie relates the story of her parents and describes her father as a puppet controlled by people on another planet. However, this is likely her imagination and though the setting is vague (there’s a war but nothing specific) most of the events are realistic.

The best part of the book is the uneasy relationship between Billie and Rafael which gradually changes and has some bumps and violence along the way. Rafael swings between pride and excitement at doing the farm chores and a murdering mode when guests come. When he seems to be drifting away from Billie – back to life as a soldier or to another woman – she can be clingy and annoyed. Billie can also be cold and calculating and is strangely unaffected by the violence. There’s also some ambiguity in the relationship – Billie is left wondering what really happened to some of the people who stop by. The intrusions from the outside world are slightly suspenseful from wondering what Rafael will do but the soldier who stops by goes on for too long and the nun’s behavior is unbelievable. Frequent references are made to Billie’s puppet father but I didn’t find this part compelling. I suppose there could be some symbolic role of the puppet – Billie and Rafael being controlled by outside forces, it’s just one of multiple stories that Billie and Rafael tell themselves to explain the world and their actions – and there’s something of a twist at the end, but that plot part wasn’t the best. More of interesting book than one that I really got into. ( )
3 vote DieFledermaus | Sep 12, 2012 |
This modern day fable has a dramatic, frightening opening and is then followed by a strange tale of a soldier who is tired of war, and an 11 year old girl who is wise beyond her years yet still a child, and how they help one another. It is a disturbing and thought provoking story by an Icelandic author whose work I haven't read before. I will be looking for more! ( )
  hemlokgang | Sep 5, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This is thefirst of Icelandic author Ómarsdóttir’s novels to appear in English, and it shouldn’t be the last. Somewhere in the reader’s mind, Catch-22 echoes faintly.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kristin Ómarsdóttirprimary authorall editionscalculated
Smith, LyttonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Eleven-year-old Billie lives at a temporary home for children called Children in Reindeer Woods, which she discovers one afternoon, to her surprise, is in the middle of a war zone. When a small group of paratroopers kill everyone who lives there with her, and then turn on each other, Billie is forced to learn to live with the violent, innocent, and troubled Rafael, who decides to abandon the soldiers life and become a farmer, no matter what it takes.… (more)

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