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The Coffee of Civilization in Iceland (newyorker.com)
73 points by romefort on Apr 19, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments



If anyone's interested in modern Icelandic literature that echoes Laxness, I'd heartily recommend the recent novels of Jon Kalman Stefansson, translated by Phil Roughton [0].

You'll certainly get a feel for why they drink coffee.

[0] e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Hell-Jon-Kalman-Stefansson/dp/1...


Strange that the article doesn't cover anything I'd call the essence of coffee, smell/taste/flavour.

I visited Iceland a few years ago, and while I was there for only 10days or so (and drove the length of the ring-road that encircles it), have an overwhelming memory of terrible American drip-style coffee. I wonder if that was coffee made for tourism or a reaction to ordering in English not Icelandic. Makes me hope so, so I can return and try again.


Coffee in the Nordic region is about many things, but taste is not high up on the list.


Per the linked history of coffee in Iceland, it seems that coffee in Iceland is made in drip or steeped (kokekaffe) styles. Other sources suggest that Icelandic coffee is drip, strong, and dark. Is that congruent with what you experienced?


Wow, this article is absolutely unreadable. As an example,

> In this case, though, I’ll indulge just a little because, although a newcomer to the country, I am an old-comer to the culture: my mother-in-law, still with us at ninety-five, is as Icelandic as could be and, although Canadian Icelanders are not exactly the same as the homespun kind, they are still almost indistinguishable from the natives.

So many non-essential dependent clauses. Every other sentence is like this: fifty sentences and over one hundred commas. Who thinks this is good style?


Prose of this style is common at The New Yorker. And since Gopnik has been writing it there since I was in diapers, I have to think he knows some things about writing that neither you nor I do. Furthermore, given the publication's legendary reputation for fact-checking and extremely high standards in journalistic integrity, I would reconsider your stance of rejecting the article before seeing if there is anything to be learned from it. After all, complicated sentence mechanics can be (1) intentional and considered or (2) accidental, revealing unclear, half-formed thoughts. In this case, I believe it is the former.

Taking into account the proclivities and interests of the Hacker News audience, perhaps you would be interested in reading an excellent, recent profile of Apple's Jony Ive at The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/shape-things-co...


He's teaching others how to write in this style too - "having sapiently bored students at a fine writer’s retreat".

My reaction to the article was to make a nice cup of coffee.


This kind of writing is more amenable to slow reading than quick skimming. Try reading it aloud, pausing at each comma and colon, it reads quite nicely.

I encountered this kind of style very often when reading French classics of the 19th century. I'm French BTW, and the modern mantra of "sentences must be short and convey only one idea" is still not as strongly followed here as it seems to be in the US.


I've been to Iceland and I have to say that if all you can write about is the coffee, then you rather missed the point.


Did you read the article? It's actually not really about coffee. In fact, very little of the content is about coffee.


Strangely, Iceland has become a sort of bizarre Mecca over the past several years for several strains of leftism.


Iceland is pretty right wing compared to the other nordics.


And volcanism. Coincidence? Wake up, sheeple.


Diane...




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