Iceland hosts the world's most northerly crime fiction festival every October, called Iceland Noir, attracting authors and audiences from all over. What is it about Iceland and noir? Does it have anything to do with the foreboding sky, the months of darkness, and the potential for isolation? At the 2016 edition of the festival, Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson explained it visually to the audience gathered close to the 66th parellel. "When you have a bit of blood on snow, it's interesting."
ZiN Daily author Howie Good agrees, and offers tips to further discover the genre. "If you haven't discovered Icelandic noir, you're missing an engaging literary subgenre. My favorite example is the series of police procedurals by Arnaldur Inridason featuring Inspector Erlendur. The first novel in the series, Jar City, was also made into an excellent movie that captures the forbidding atmosphere of the books, which is shaped by Iceland's extreme landscape and weather."
Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from ThoughtCrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.
A Loss of Faith Brings Vertigo
What kind of conclusions can you draw when you’re watching the sun go down? Or you’re watching the sea or the forest? They’re certainly things that keep me up late. I want to go totally nuts, shout “Fuck yeah!” But, of course, what happens? I begin to feel dizzy. There’s now a cookbook of everything Brad Pitt has eaten in a movie. The guy who runs the souvenir shop in the basement next to the bathrooms seems unimpressed. He pictures himself lying in the shade of beautiful trees. It’s a place I’d go as well if I just knew how to get there.
When Fake News Becomes Real
It’s important to test during the day whether or not you're dreaming. You probably won't look like the real you. Chances are you will be in somewhat of a panic. Check that the doors and windows of your house are locked. Start naming the things in the room. Is there a window where a painting is supposed to be? Remind yourself that you are not going crazy. Try to notice the cold, wet sensation. If you can't after fifteen minutes, just sit or stand there. Signal to somebody to help you as best you can.
A Handbook of Alibis
Sometimes the strangest things earn you a nickname. A woman has been running around asking, "Where's my son?" and begging for help. It’s a little alarming. The same events keep repeating themselves, just worse. Half the people burn out; half the people die. And you say, “Whatever, I have nothing to hide.” A couple arrives at the site where their children have been found dead in the trunk of a car. The place has a history, shifting patterns of leaf shadows. My apprehensions turn up a notch. Hate is permissible, and no one seems able to explain quite why.
Run Hide Fight
Ambulances roam the roads in anticipation of random shootings. Yeah, every day. Many of us can’t believe we’re still alive. Run Hide Fight. It’s an intricate dance. You don’t want to fuck it up.
The crime tip hotline rings continuously. “Who’s the bad man?” the police operator asks. “What’s he look like?” He looks a little like one of the Twelve Apostles, the tallish one with dyed blond hair. The police may not catch him. He could still be here months from now, whispering to women on the street, “Your egg, my semen, we change the world.”
Is it evening? The weekend? Another time when few people are around? I take a walk on the Boardwalk. A woman has strategically placed herself under one of the infrequent streetlights. “Tear here,” she says with a wink. I didn’t actually go to art school. So, to me, this is art school.