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I Left My Heart in Skaftafell - Victor LaValle

Published onOct 07, 2019
I Left My Heart in Skaftafell - Victor LaValle

Task: “A quick Pub on your thoughts on the world or an artifact from your chosen short.”

I chose “I left my heart in skaftafell” mainly because I have visited Skaftafell during my trip to Iceland in late June 2017. I drove through the Golden Circle and the Ring Road in eleven days and visited several cities along the way. It was my most adventurous trip so far, traveling with one friend in a country we didn’t know much about, camping in random places with a rented tent and a small sleeping bag. More thoughts below…

Very brief summary

It is a short narrated in first person voice by the protagonist who is an African american man. He traveled to Iceland from New York after breaking up with the woman he loved just to avoid marriage. It begins with the narrator counting his unpleasant interactions with some of the Caucasians and Africans during his Icelandic trip. Throughout the story, the narrator tells us about the Myths and Legends of some of the beautiful places he is touring in Iceland and about the troll that keeps following him. I wont spoil it, so go read the story for more detail.

Thoughts on “I left my heart in skaftafell”

At first, I was expecting a science fiction short, but surprisingly found a modern story based on fantasy and myth. There were a few things that I liked about this story: it combined Icelandic myths and legends, fantasy, and touchy subjects about modern life. Let me break down my thoughts as follows:

  • On Myth: first of all, I felt like I was reading one of those Icelandic tales. I started digging up and learning more about Iceland culture thanks to this short. This story also reminds me that there is a fine line between science fiction and fantasy.

  • On Race: I thought the author was trying to make a point about racism through the story. How being black in America is still an issue he has to worry about. Maybe the protagonist was targeted by the troll because he stood out from the rest of the tourists in the bus.

    I can very much relate to this. As a Chinese-Panamanian, I constantly thought we were being targeted. Whenever the police stops us, we think they are just doing so to ask for money (corruption). We are constantly targeted by the thieves as well because they think we have money since most are business owners. I also grew up fearing for my family’s safety. Every now and then you hear about a Chinese being gunned down during a robbery. I had nightmares about being kidnapped or that one of my parents didn’t make it home…

    My time in the US made me realize that we are not that different from one another. Black, brown, yellow, white, etc… we are all the same: all biased, all afraid, all flawed. I also wish we could have a happy ending where everybody understands each other’s fear and could become more empathetic towards others.

  • On Iceland: The land of fire and ice - it is definitely one of the most mystical countries I have traveled to. I had never seen such breathtaking landscapes in my life. Every single destination felt like you are part of a fantasy movie. I guess that is why we see so many Icelandic places in the Game of Thrones series.

Here are some photos I took while we were visiting Lake Myvatn, Iceland.

View of Lake Myvatn from our tent.

Everything in Iceland seems magical

Grjotagja Cave

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