Gljúfrasteinn is nestled in a large, lovely valley with imposing mountains nearby, across the road from Laxnes horse farm. Laxness's name, a pseudonym he took in 1923, means “of Laxnes.”
First we walk around through the gardens to the back of the house, and have our picnic lunch on a bench in an alcove shaded by small birches and wildflowers. The nearby stream tumbles over smooth boulders and forms myriad small waterfalls.
The house itself is elegantly plain: medium sized, white plaster with lots of windows. It isn’t a showplace; it's a house meant to be lived in. The original furnishings, art, music and books are still in place, so it's very easy to imagine Laxness and his family living here. The audio tour is excellent: it is less obtrusive than a tour guide, and the recording includes the voices of Laxness and his wife. You can stand in his study, see the desk he stood at to write, look out the window at the very view that he saw daily. You can enter his bedroom, and see the art and objects he kept close to him. You can see his Steinway piano—the very same one that Bill Holm has played. When I see the grandfather clock in the hallwa—ticking E-TER-NI-TY---(the one that the clock in The Fish Can Sing was modeled on) my throat closes up and I choke back tears.