In the first part of Angels of the Universe
Paul tells his life story,
going back to his grandparents and his birth in 1949, on the day that
Iceland joined NATO. What might otherwise be the tale of an innocent,
untroubled childhood in Reykjavik is overshadowed from the beginning by
flash-forwards to his later mental illness and by the physical presence
of the asylum Klepp where he will be institutionalized. And part two
describes Paul's time in and out of Klepp, and some of the friends
he makes: Oli Beatle believes he wrote the music of the Beatles; the
otherwise dapper Viktor has become obsessed by the figure of Adolf Hitler;
and Peter is a Sino-phile waiting for a doctorate from Beijing.
It's a sad and poignant story, but one told with warmth and humour; in
the balance Angels of the Universe is uplifting rather than depressing.
The terrors of schizophrenia and institutionalization are conveyed,
but remain more distant than the joys Paul and his friends find in life.
And, though intensely personal, Angels of the Universe also offers an
unusual view of Icelandic society, both of its treatment of the mentally
ill and more generally.
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