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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Children in Reindeer Woods

Children in Reindeer Woods - Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Lytton Smith

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.