The importance of being Iceland

A review of Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjón

It’s Reykjavík, Iceland, 1918. Reykjavík is a more isolated village than it is an international city, erupting volcano Katla covers all with smoke and ash, Spanish flu has arrived, and WWI is barely at bay. Life goes on, nevertheless; and orphaned gay teen and film buff Máni Steinn (“Moonstone”) finds his place among Reykjavik’s dark alleys, prostituting himself for movie theater money, while idolizing local bad girl Sóla G.

A 2013 novella written by poet, novelist, and Björk collaborator (“Isobel,” “I’ve Seen It All,” etc.) Sjón, and translated to English from the Icelandic by Victoria Crabb, Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who take to it like a bag of Yogi chai, it’ll probably rank somewhere between “pretty good” and “great.”

As for me, a teenage Björk fan and thus one of the susceptible tea heads, it was just “pretty good.” 30-something year old me was underwhelmed by the elliptical writing style and explicit sex, but teenage me would have loved it. So, you make the call about yourself and your tastes.

Especially suitable for fans of Björk, LGBTQ Bildungsromane, and Icelandic history, Moonstone achieves unexpected nuance and pathos. It also has undeniable passion, verve, and style choices to spare (some clunkier than others). Recommended, if it sounds like your kinda thing.