Í allri sinni nekt

Smásögur. JPV forlag 2000.

Í þessum smásögum eru kynin í tilfinningalegu og kynferðislegu návígi. Sögurnar draga hver með sínum hætti upp mynd af berskjölduðum persónum og dirfska höfundarins felst í því að ögra hinu viðtekna, ekki síst varðandi styrk og getu karlmannsins í samlífinu. Kvenpersónurnar eru þó ekki sveipaðar helgislepju, heldur standa þær jafn naktar og reikandi.

Útgefandi: JPV forlag.



„Frásagnarhátturinn, stíllinn, tæknin sem hann hefur á valdi sínu, minnir á sumt af því besta og frumlegasta í enskum bókmenntum, svo sem eftir Raymond Carver eða J. M. Coetzee . . . Í heildina er þetta smásagnasafn frábær lesning, bæði í vitsmunalegu tilliti og fagurfræðilegu.“
– Kristjana Gunnars, World Literature Today

„Á þennan máta leiðir Rúnar Helgi lesandann gegnum sögurnar sem eru hver annarri hversdagslegri en búa yfir sannleika og dýpt sem lesandinn neyðist til að meðtaka.“
– Sigríður Albertsdóttir, DV

„Það er ekkert fyrirsjáanlegt í samskiptum karls og konu í þessum bráðsmellnu smásögum Rúnars Helga. Þar eru allir að bögglast með tilfinningar sínar og það skemmtilega er að þær tilfinningar hafa ekki verið snyrtar af höfundi til að líta betur út á bók . . . Rúnar Helgi hefur einkar gott vald á smásagnaforminu, skapar skýrar persónur og helsti kostur hans, írónían, nýtur sín mjög vel í þessum sögum.“
– Súsanna Svavarsdóttir, Morgunblaðið

„Í allri sinni nekt er afar velheppnað og metnaðarfullt smásagnasafn. Metnaður höfundar kemur meðal annars fram í þeirri fjölbreytni sem einkennir söguefnin innan þessa afmarkaða ramma. Sömu fjölbreytni er að finna í stíl og uppbyggingu sagnanna . . . Í allri sinni nekt er bók skrifuð af lífi og sál, af höfundi sem tekur samningu smásagnasafns í það minnsta jafnalvarlega og skáldsöguskrif. Að dómi Listavaktarinnar er bókin Í allri sinni nekt glæsilegt smásagnasafn og sagan Dropinn á glerinu í hópi bestu íslensku smásagna.“ – Ágúst Borgþór Sverrisson, visir.is

„Kláraði líka fyrir skemmstu Í allri sinni nekt eftir Rúnar Helga Vignisson, prýðileg bók. Sérlega samtölin, þau voru einstaklega vel skrifuð.“ – Lady Kisa, hugi.is

Ritdómur í World Literature Today
"IN ALL HER NAKEDNESS" is a new collection of ten stories by Runar Helgi Vignisson, who is fast becoming a veteran writer of the new generation of postmodernists in Iceland. Vignisson has published six books previously, the first of which appeared in 1984. He has also distinguished himself as a translator, and has rendered novels by Amy Tan and Philip Roth and William Faulkner into Icelandic, for which he
has received much praise. The stories in i allri sinni nekt are no doubt inspired by some of the international literature Vignisson has involvedhimself in. The manner of writing, the style, the technical flair are reminiscent of some of the best and most imaginative English-language writing, such as that by Raymond Carver or J. M. Coetzee.While much of Icelandic contemporary fiction is straightforwardly modernist, often narrated in a plain and linear style, and more often
than not realistic in tone, Vignisson's stories here are more daring stylistically. His narration will frequently become elliptical, shifting time frames and subjective viewpoints out of focus. Often the language is stark and the content rough, while simultaneously highly suggestive. The emphasis is both architectural and psychological, so that the style
will end up competing with, or becoming of parallel importance to, the psychology of the narrators and characters. That interplay between what is highly formal and what is intensely suggestive and fluctuating creates a unique and appealing tension.Much of the content in this particular collection is concerned with sexuality and sexual relationships. "Nudity," for example, centers on an encounter between an Icelander and a Welsh-Australian sunbather at a
nudist colony in Australia. Here we have a complete narrative of a friendship which eventually becomes physical, but in the end we cannot be sure any of it ever took place, or that it was not simply the imaginative flight of one of the personages. There are overtones of the Adam and Eve story, with the nudity and the snakes they are warned about
if they go outside the bounds of the colony. Such overtones become typical of all the stories. Settings and images are not to be taken for granted. In "Midsummer's Day Erotica" two couples end up bathing in a hot spring in the middle of the night after hiking on Snaefell glacier, which arouses the male protagonist to such a degree that he commits marital rape on returning home. Much of this is a speculation on the
forces of nature itself, the hidden magnetism of Snaefell glacier, renowned for its spiritual power, and the hot spring water and the midnight sun."Embers" is an example of stylistic experimentation, with its shifting point of view and time frames in a cubistic manner. At its heart is the story of the rescue of a sailor who falls off a pier, and a neighbor
woman who happens to be looking out her window and saves his life by telephoning the authorities in time. "The Toll" is a much more straightforward tale of a husband returning from a business trip only to find his wife has had an affair at a conference. They begin to have a very serious argument, in the middle of which his mother telephones and he acts as if nothing were wrong. The narrative is really about the
hardened surface of human psychology, which is bubbling underneath just like the volcanic land itself in Iceland, and the telephone keeps ringing to sound the alarm that the magma of human violence might break out any time."Another Story" is perhaps the most reminiscent of Raymond Carver. This piece concerns a group of men who go on a camping trip in the mountains, where they encounter a Danish couple in the throes of lovemaking. After their nature hikes, it is really the love-couple that has caught their attention, and it obsesses them. But perhaps the least interesting or silliest story is "The Old Maids' Club," which is a satire on a kind of
Dead Poets Society formed by extreme feminists who are obsessed with virginity and with sex without men. They are not lesbians; instead, they use dildos and autoeroticism. This is a slightly retrograde piece, and not nearly as interesting as the other, generally very mature, narratives. "What Were You Saying," presented as a monologue by an elderly Australian speaking to his young, female, Icelandic passenger,
is the story that reminds one most of J. M. Coetzee. The narrator is unreliable, and after a while a very uncomfortable sense of him develops as he praises himself and rambles on about his life and how well he has pulled everything off. He seems to be showing off to the woman in the car, and the whole narrative becomes a strange form of mating ritual.
"The Drop on the Glass" is also a very fine examination of a long marriage that has ended in the death of one spouse, while the other is both in mourning and in anger and begins to fumble about for a way into a new life. The philosophical and psychological nuances here are well considered.

"The Shaking" is not so well developed, although it makes its roundabout way to a conclusion of its own. Here a slightly sick man in a women's lingerie store buys a set of underwear and sends it to the sales clerk. What is lacking, perhaps, is the development of the male character's motivation. He seems to be presented as more of a type than an individual. But Vignisson has made the understated narration such a
specialty by this time, that the reader is not apt to mind. "Duet," however, is a fine example of the author's storytelling capabilities, a tale wherein form and content come together in a nuanced interplay of all the elements found in the other stories. We have an emphasis on nature, human psychology vying with biological urges, fascination and pride in struggle with each other, and the battle between the sexes. All
in all, this volume of stories is an excellent read, and rewarding on both an intellectual and an esthetic level.


By Kristjana Gunnars, University of Alberta