What have I been reading?
So, i have been reading quite a lot the last month, as i always do, though i always have the feeling i’m not reading enough. That’s how bookminded I’ve become over the years. Anyway, What did i read? There were quite some Dutch books in there, which I’ll talk about in English. Most of them aren’t available in translations I guess, but maybe it’s nice to see what Belgian writers write about (well, the same shit basically).
Herman Brusselmans – Ex-drummer
Herman Brusselmans is one of the more famous writers in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, mostly because of his Fuck you-attitude towards the world. His style is irony at its busiest (not always the finest, because he can exaggerate being ironic). His books are especially beloved by rebellious teens and people who like to read about losers. I used to read a lot of his stuff when I was sixteen (he’s got quite the back catalogue, writing a book almost every year), but after a while i saw he kept on writing the same book over and over. He can be extremely funny, but he’s sensitive at times too. (although he’s not known for that, and it depends on the book). Anyway, ex-drummer is about some guys forming a band of people with some deficiencies. The I-person, a famous Belgian writer, gets to be the drummer in the band, because he can’t drum. Probably not available in English, but there is a movie made of it. In Dutch, but you can find it on Play.com. Haven’t seen the film, but it is a bit weird. Here the trailer:
In this non-fiction book, Karel Van Bever, a doctor with leftist sympathies, goes working under cover in a big factory in Antwerp for nine months (or a year, i can’t remember). IT’s like Günter Wallraf disguising himself and then finding out things aren’t going as smooth in factories as they need to go. A lot of social problems. Too much to explain, and it’s not gonna be translated i guess, but an interesting read if you’re anticapitalist. (that last sentence was a joke).
PAul Baeten Gronda – Nemen wij samen afscheid van de liefde (translation: let’s say goodbye to love together)
A debut novel by some hyped young Belgian author, who happens to be an aquaintance of a collegue. So i asked him if i could borrow the book, quite curious. The read was enjoyable, but not really as thrilling. And quite the average story.
Look, I’m a huge David Mitchell fan, but this book just didn’t do it for me. Mitchell writes a coming-of-age story, and it just seemed a bit plain. I could relate to the feelings of the main character, but having read all the previous novels by Mitchell, I know he can do a lot better. Just hope his next one is back to the old style. I read it in Dutch by the way, so maybe that had something to do with it too?
Elvis Peeters – De Ontelbaren (translation: The Uncountables)
Another Belgian writer (i normally only read foreign authors, this month i read 3 … weeird). A novel of ideas about immigration. Imagine the entire southern hemisphere trying to enjoy the richness of Europe & The United States. The entire society would just stop working, people would steal… This book is about that. about uncountable people coming to Europe. A very scary book, in a way, especially because of the gruesome ending. I’m normally not very into Dutch literature, but this could be an international success in literary circles i think.
One of the more well-known authors that I hadn’t read yet. What can I say? After reading ab ook like this, you always understand why they are classics. A bit sentimental at times, but the typical Southern way of life (well, at least i think it was like that), is depicted in her stories in a very sharp way. Racism, class differences. Classic.
David Small – Stitches
I also bought some new graphic novels, after a couple of months not paying attention to stuff that got released. So i was very surprised to hear quite a few amazing comics were suddenly available. One of them was this autobiographical comic by David Small. Stitches is about Small’s cold relationship with his parents, especially his mother, with quite a scary plot (but as far as i know, it really happened). I’m not gonna spoil to much, but you just read it.
A small graphic novel that I have to read again, cause I can’t tell what it was about. well, it was about some comic book author, who is visiting his parents, and will leave the next morning. he has a walk with his dad in the evening, talking about this women he met online and who’s flying over to him the next week. They also bring up old memories, and next to that you’ll read the story he’s writing himself. Nice, but not very understandable at first.
A great graphic novel that i just finished (yes, i’m getting tired of typing this, damn) and that is haunting me a little while typing this. About a family, where the parents are getting divorced after being married for forty years. Their adult children don’t understand it, and deal with it in their own way (next to the problems they have themselves). It’s so incredibly subtle and emotionally nice.
Things I’ve been reading but not finished yet
I started in Don Quichote, but having a hard time reading it. It’s really good, but it’s a slow read. Next to that, I’m reading ‘The Lazarus Project’ by Aleksandar Hemon. But the great thing i’m really enjoying is David Eagleman’s Sum. I’ll write more about that next time.
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