The first book I finished this year is a Dutch book. I read it for the ‘A book that was originally written in a different language’ challenge. It hasn’t been translated to English so I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a review or not, or maybe write a review in Dutch. But since my blog is English and I want to support Belgian/Dutch literature internationally, I thought I’d write the review in English anyway.
Let me start by translating the blurb:
For two happy years, the sweetest girl in the world, who’s called Marie, has been a part of “the doctor”‘s life. Since she’s been gone, he’s been spending his days in a state of mourning that will not go away.
In the meantime, life goes on in Abraham, a tiny and strange town in the middle of a desolate swamp. And life appears to be good for only a few of the inhabitants.
I have to be honest, I have no idea what to think of this book. I finished it yesterday and was left with an incredible sense of “what the hell did I just read?”. The writing style is very poetic and it gave me the impression that more thought was given to the composition of the sentences than the storyline itself.
The book starts off with Marie running away from her boyfriend after he beats her and threatens to lock her up. While she’s on the run, she meets “the doctor” who helps her and takes her to see her brothers.
Then we’re transported to Abraham, a town filled with weird characters. There’s the mayor who sleeps in babydolls and giggles constantly, who owns a bar and is the chief of the police. There’s also a woman whose whole body is covered in hair so she has to shave every morning. The list goes on but let’s go back to the mayor. He has a chronic pain in his abdomen and halfway through the book he starts to kill people, yes people as in plural. It’s like once he starts, he can’t stop. I’m not one for gore in books or movies and the killing in this book is very detailed.
In between paragraphs there’s suddenly the voice of “the doctor” who is writing this story down (?) (not sure..) and is making observations. He joins the story at the end of the books for its bloody end.. which I also didn’t understand.
So all in all a very confusing book. For a book with ‘Marie’ for a title, the actual character of Marie is only mentioned in the beginning and the very end.
I liked the absurdity of it all and most of the time I liked the poetic way of writing although at other times it really annoyed me. (Sometimes I got to the end of a sentence and had forgotten what it was about)
But in the end, I just didn’t get it. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention, maybe I just missed the point completely, but I can’t help but think that there was no point.. none.. at all.. that it was more like a nightmare.
I’ve said it before, I don’t read a lot of Dutch books. I tend to feel like I HAVE to like them but I rarely do.
There are some Dutch books that I would like to reread.. I could try to fit them into the reading challenge, for example the ‘read a book from your childhood’ challenge.. because I read my first English novel when I was 16 (I think) so there were a lot of great books before that time. I could of course read Harry Potter but I won’t 🙂 I’ll read something else.
I’ll let you know once I find one, because I never bought books when I was younger and I almost never got any either. so I’ll have to go look for some.
See you soon!
Cover from the Humo website.