Review by Laura Nicholson.
As a self-proclaimed addict looking for his “next hit” of Iceland, Edward Hancox writes a relatable and amusing debut called Iceland, Defrosted that will have you packing your bags and getting on the next airplane to Keflavík.
Hancox is obsessed with all things Icelandic and was first drawn to the chilly North Atlantic island because of his love for the cold and Sigur Rós. With his wry English humor, Hancox describes the appeal of the crisp winter frost rather than the “semi-warm, wasp-infested flat lemonade of an English summer.”
Iceland, Defrosted is a collection of hilarious anecdotes based on Hancox’s travels around Iceland. Iceland Review Online readers will be familiar with Hancox as he writes regular Daily Life columns (some passages in the book are built on those columns).
I laughed out loud countless times as he detailed his observations about the uniqueness of the country. Perhaps one of my favorite stories was his commentary about the Reykjavík Zoo where he says a young Icelandic woman confided in him while she was drinking, that the zoo staff sit down to a “very special dinner” once a year where some of the zoo residents are eaten. Hancox notes that many of the animals at the zoo, like dogs and cats, would be found as road kill in Britain.
Mixed in with his stories are interesting facts about Icelandic culture, like the naming system, where to find the best pylsa and where the hidden people are said to exist. Hancox’s vast knowledge of Iceland is evident and his enthusiasm will resonate with his readers. Reading Iceland, Defrosted made me feel like Hancox was an old friend of mine who was telling me about his latest trip. The reader gets a real sense of his personality and he is instantly likable.
However, as he is not a writer by trade, Hancox’s overuse of punctuation is a distraction. I felt that the proofreading of the book could have been done more thoroughly. Another minus is that he would often be telling a compelling story and then would abruptly go off on a tangent. I think Hancox would benefit from a more focused approach to his writing.
The longing for Iceland that Hancox describes is one that only those who have visited the country will understand. I too had such a strong urge to visit Iceland while reading his book that I reserved a plane ticket on a spur of the moment. Four days later I was in Reykjavík at places Hancox recommended. I couldn’t help but wish Hancox was with me to introduce me to his Icelandic friends and to listen to more of his stories over kaffi.
Iceland, Defrosted is a strong debut and gives an inside look at Iceland that you can’t get anywhere else. I suggest you get rid of your guidebook immediately and instead bring along Hancox’s comical and honest suggestions.