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I enjoy all of Bill Holm's work. I prefer his essays and poetry. Bill and I grew up in a similar post-immigrant culture he was a few years older. The Old Country was very present in our American homes. Can the Old Country be home to us? Bill gives it a try, living both in small town America and in z fisherman's cottage in Iceland. One person found this helpful. Holm looks deeply into both his Icelandic life and his American life. He writes about the changes in both, their shortcomings and their positives, but he takes mostly a polemicist stance on American life.

A great read for anyone interested in Iceland or America. Bill Holm takes his readers with him as he settles down along the northern coast of Iceland in a cottage close to where his ancestors had lived before emigrating in the 19th century. For those new to Holm's writing, the book will reveal his sharp eye for detail, the breadth of his research, and his great heart as he shares a sense of going home to the land of his forebears.

He is a brilliant essayist. A concise analysis if Icelandic culture and character by a Minnesotan of Icelandic ethnicity. I always enjoy Holm's writing and this book continues that sentiment. His feeling for the land of his ancestors comes through in each chapter. That he is also a poet comes through in his prose. Beautifully written, unique and deeply interesting. I really enjoyed this book and will read it again! See all 13 reviews. Most recent customer reviews.

Published 1 year ago. Published on February 18, Published on June 9, Published on November 30, Published on February 15, Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. An American in Iceland. Set up a giveaway. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Travels Real and Imaginary. Names for the Sea: Iceland--Its Culture and History.

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Pity that, because Iceland is one of those places about which few travel monologues seem to exist, at least in this country, and I've always been rather fascinated with it. Still, that small passage gives you a taste of the polemic Holm spins here. I'm a fan of rant, usually, but I like it to be punctuated with humor, or at least snide wit.


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  • Catalog Record: The windows of Brimnes : an American in Iceland | Hathi Trust Digital Library.
  • The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland.

This is a quality that seems entirely absent in Holm. The first two chapters of this book have far less to do with Iceland than they do with Holm's bitterness towards America. Even when I agree with him, it gets old fast. By the time I'd gotten to page twenty, I was eager to exercise the fifty-page rule on this book, and when I got to page fifty, I did. Hopefully I'll find something about Iceland in the near future that actually celebrates Iceland, but from what I got of this book, The Windows of Brimnes is not it.

Jan 02, Larissa rated it liked it Shelves: I'd been planning to read Holm's book of essays, Windows of Brimnes for quite some time. But reading these essays spread over about a month in the best of circumstances--on trains, before bed, with my morning coffee--I found myself constantly going back and forth on how I felt about the collection--and Holm--over all.

On one hand, Holm is observant and anecdotal and rather funny, in a crotc I'd been planning to read Holm's book of essays, Windows of Brimnes for quite some time. On one hand, Holm is observant and anecdotal and rather funny, in a crotchety sort of way. He is nostalgic and sentimental and writes about nature and small communities and memory with an eye for detail and a distinctly romantic lyricism. I don't have cable, I read every day--I still can't play Hayden myself and don't feel the worse for it It becomes a case of Old Man Yelling a little too often.

But all the same, there are several really wonderful essays in this collection, so even when I was irritated, I found myself returning to the book. I'd even consider reading another one of Holm's essay collections, provided that I had something else to turn to when I'd had enough of his tsk-tsking. Jan 21, Lucy Pollard-Gott rated it it was amazing Shelves: Bill Holm divides his time between Minneota, Minnesota and Brimnes on the northern coast of Iceland where he lives in a little cottage and takes in the view--the long view to the past of his emigrant ancestors and the view across the ocean to his life in America.

He is a wonderful essayist, with all the wit, warmth, and insight one could hope for in this slim, but rich volume. I stumbled on this travel narrative while browsing Scandinavian travel books, and I'm so glad I did! I imagine that read Bill Holm divides his time between Minneota, Minnesota and Brimnes on the northern coast of Iceland where he lives in a little cottage and takes in the view--the long view to the past of his emigrant ancestors and the view across the ocean to his life in America. I imagine that readers who enjoy Bill Bryson's thoughts on "home" would also find much to love in Bill Holm's book.

Mar 27, Erin rated it liked it. A wonderful guide to the culture and topography of Iceland, which is often and unfortunately punctuated with shallow and grumpy commentary about American politics and "progress. By the end, I felt like I was being lectured by an elderly uncle, not guided through a country of sublime beauty and intrigue. Aug 13, Jonna Higgins-Freese rated it liked it. This book was solidly average.

I skimmed it, more because I'm interested in Iceland than because the book itself was worth the time. There were lovely lines and bits -- of sleeping with the windows open to the fjord, their first night in Brimnes -- "There is no such sleep, no such music to calm the interior frenzy, to lullaby your demons into drooling irrelevance. Someday you are going to die.

The human race is endlessly foolish. God may or This book was solidly average. God may or may not exist in some form. It's up to him. And then the diatribe against Icelanders "selling their dreamland to the aluminum companies" -- okay, sure -- but he does seem to like electricity, aluminum airplanes to fly back and forth, cars to get where he's going, and the capitalism that supports his tenured? And yet even that loveliness contains seeds of what was annoying, grating, about the collection. That reference to being broke -- and yet he has enough money to live half the year in one country and half in another.

That seems far from broke.

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And he appears to have been teaching -- perhaps in a tenured position? So if he's broke, that's no one's fault but his own. And yet my irritation with these elitist, holier-than-thou tendencies is perhaps not justified by the evidence -- Holm is careful to note the complex economic history of Iceland -- colonized by the Danes for centuries, with a large underclass of landless workers denied even the legal right to marry And another lovely lyrical bit about the urge to look into genealogy: Those who stayed often thought those who left cowards, deserters, even traitors.

But a century gone by is good balm for these passions, and leaves in its wake a more attractive human habit: Am I like them? What did I inherit? There was occasionally a bit of ignorance of wider social context that was grating -- "Iceland was so far away, so small [in ], that Rome's arms were not long enough to enforce priestly celibacy, or else they simply were not interested" -- priestly celibacy was not a thing widely enforced anywhere at that period. And then another lovely meditation: If those people are dead, so will I be soon. And there were certainly passages in which I recognized myself: It is not to my credit that I acquired only one of them.

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What was absent from my first literary efforts was the farm. My head lived in the world of books, of words. I still live in that rarefied world, unless I make a conscious effort to leave it" And then the boring diatribes -- against Muzak in waiting rooms programmed from afar, "phone us at dinnertime to sell us doodads and we buy" Well, yes, but jeez.

You just sound like a cantankerous, sour old crank when you go on like that. He did say some basic truths plainly: People more oftenemigrate because they are desperate, and there is nothing left for them in the Old World. And some, like the dead Icelandic horses heaved into the sea, will not survive the experience" Jun 05, Jane Mulkewich rated it really liked it. I am reading about Iceland these days, and I started reading this book just after having installed a Brimnes cabinet from Ikea with a window that looks something like the window on the dust jacket of this book The author Bill Holm explains that "brim" means surf breaking on the beach and "nes" means cape or headland, and he has bought a farm named Brimnes where he gazes I am reading about Iceland these days, and I started reading this book just after having installed a Brimnes cabinet from Ikea with a window that looks something like the window on the dust jacket of this book The author Bill Holm explains that "brim" means surf breaking on the beach and "nes" means cape or headland, and he has bought a farm named Brimnes where he gazes out his window to the sea, reflecting on his life as a transplanted American descended from Icelanders.

The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland: Bill Holm: unadiporov.tk: Books

As a genealogist myself, I loved his chapter on genealogy, however I don't agree with him that it is a melancholy pursuit just because people have passed away? This is not just a book about Iceland; Holm is reflecting on America which he calls "my home, my citizenship, my burden". Another weird coincidence - I was sent a link to an interview with Mark Crispin Miller - about conspiracy theories - at the same time as I was reading Holm cite Mark Crispin Miller page Holm has since died, and I am glad he spent his final days gazing out the windows of Brimnes, and wish for us all such a time and place of reflection.

Nov 13, Karen Grothe rated it really liked it Shelves: I read this book as part of Modern Mrs. Darcy's Reading for Fun reading challenge.


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  7. It is a "book set somewhere you've never been but would like to visit" for me. My husband spent a summer in Iceland when he was a boy and told me some stories, so I thought I would read a book about Iceland. But this book is more than that. It also makes political and philosophical statements about the U. It's clear the author loves Iceland, maybe more than the U.

    There are lovely descriptions of Iceland and its legends, poetry, birds, and horses. He does get into grumpy old man territory to me though when he criticizes the weed whackers at length for breaking up the silence at his house in Iceland. Still, I enjoyed most of the book. Jan 30, Harold Rhenisch rated it really liked it. Holm caught so much of Iceland beautifully here. The book is as haunting and clearly-lined as the land.

    He was lucky to be able to buy a fisherman's hut in Iceland and write from it every summer. It may no longer be possible, but we can share it with him, and what a gorgeous sharing it is. Sometimes he wanders away into protesting too much, but Lady Macbeth came from the North, too, so, pshaw. What is beautiful here is unique. Only Jon Kalman Stefansson is his equal, and that's high praise for them both. Aug 27, Wayne rated it it was amazing.

    Bill Holm's books are always worth reading and rereading. Returned to this after a visit to Iceland and an afternoon at Brimnes, Holm's summer home in Hosfos.


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    4. Perhaps best read with feet firmly planted in the context of place, this was so much better the second time around. May 25, Faith rated it liked it. I loved the parts of this book that talked about Iceland and his family history and upbringing. I hated when he used simple Icelandic themes to jump on his political and religious soapbox. He is a beautiful writer when he jumps off the soapbox and in this book he did not jump off very often! Aug 31, Indie Barbara rated it really liked it.

      Bill Holm, I wished I had met you. Oct 12, Jenny rated it really liked it. I enjoyed this thoughtful book by author Bill Holm, who divides his time between his home state of Minnesota and a small home named Brimnes that is situated up on a fjord in northern Iceland. Holm is the descendant of Icelanders and grew up with involvement in the Icelandic culture, such as attending an Icelandic Lutheran church in Minnesota.

      Catalog Record: The windows of Brimnes : an American in Iceland | Hathi Trust Digital Library

      Church is to Icelanders only an occasional formality to note births, deaths, and baptisms. Holm is clearly a gifted writer; he writes descriptions with c I enjoyed this thoughtful book by author Bill Holm, who divides his time between his home state of Minnesota and a small home named Brimnes that is situated up on a fjord in northern Iceland. Holm is clearly a gifted writer; he writes descriptions with clever usage of words that I never would have thought of, and it all adds to the lovely feel of the book and a better understanding of this sparsely populated corner of Iceland.

      At times he devotes an entire chapter to muse on the state of political affairs or the importance of leaving behind noise to focus on silence. Just as I was beginning to think, "Okay, can we tie this back to Iceland now? Holm has nothing kind to say about religious fanaticism, involvement of war, "Muzak," and technological advancements like cell phones and the internet--though interestingly it is through the internet that I learned of his book at all--so enter the book with this in mind.

      Overall a good read, taking me so long to finish only because I experienced a personal tragedy in the middle of reading it, and it took me a good six weeks to return to reading. Not the book's fault in the least! My favorite quotes from Holm: It only grazes the surface of the sea for a moment, turning the sky orange, pink, lavender, and gold, then proceeds to pull itself up by its bootstraps to the top of the sky again. For a few hours the world is pale gray and pink, quite bright enough to read whatever newspaper you have acquired to distract yourself from the splendors of the spectacle.

      To extend the metaphor, what artwork that you hang on your walls can stand up to the splendor of the light that enters this house? It is good that humans labor to make beauty out of light and sound and language, but we must also practice a certain modesty in the presence of our superior—the world out those windows. Nov 19, Jess Roncker rated it really liked it.