Without a doubt, Sjon’s The Whispering Muse is the oddest, little book I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s protagonist, Valdimar Haraldsson is a puffed-up, self-absorbed intellectual who has written a 17 volume set on the correlation between Nordic superiority and Nordic fish consumption. He is a man who cares only about eating fish, talking about fish, and foisting his theories on those around him. He’s strange, he’s cocky, he’s pathetic, and he’s funny. He gets invited to spend time on a Danish merchant vessel, touring Norwegian waters. Once on ship he gets distressed due to the lack of fish on the dinner the menu. Such is the life of a man who once wrote a book called Memoirs of a Herring Inspector. At night, one of the mates regales the guests with stories of his involvement in the Jason and the Argonauts saga. It turns out the mate is none other than Caeneus, he who sought the Golden Fleece with the mythical Jason. Keep in mind, the book is set in the 1940s. It’s not quite magical realism, but the book seamlessly weaves myth and modern sensibilities. It’s all a little bonkers. Quite often I found myself wondering, “why?”. The Whispering Muse clocks in at a compact 130 pages, there’s not much of an arc to the story, but the writing is good, the characters keep you guessing, and it’s strangely compelling.