A Great Technology

I just started reading a collection of short stories by Olaf Olafsson called Valentines: stories. Each of the dozen stories is named for a month of the year. I came across the story, "On the Lake," in the Winter 2006 issue of Zoetrope: All Story and was fascinated by its precision and understatement. The reader's eye is directed to the surface of the action allowing the palpable tensions and emotional undercurrents to bubble up on their own. I read it three times like a kid in a magic shop trying to uncover the secret. The trick seems to be a combination of great care, faith in the reader, rigorous restraint, and the ruthless removal of extraneous details. The story was retitled "April" for the collection.

Olafsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1962 and has a degree in physics from Brandeis University. In addition to writing short stories, novels and plays, he was the founder and former president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Inc. where he "was involved in developing the CD and...the PlayStation computer."

"[His novel] Fyrirgefning syndanna (Absolution) was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize in 1991 and the short story collection Aldingarðurinn (Valentines) won the same award in 2006...His novel, The Journey Home, will be filmed in 2007, directed by Liv Ullman."

In a 2003 discussion of his dual career as writer and Vice President of Time Warner with CNET, he said, "One form of media still in my mind is best served by traditional methods, and that's storytelling. Books provide a great way for people to tell stories. Movies are the same. Paper is actually a great technology, when it comes to a novel."