THE FOLLOWING STORY

26 Mar
322255 (1)

First published in Dutch as Het Volgende Verhaal 1991 Harvest English translation by Ina Rilke 1993 A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book Harcourt Brace & Company Soft cover 1996 – 115 pages Literary Fiction – (mythological references)

This is a surreal narration written in the first person about a man who isn’t certain if he is dead or alive. Or is he just dreaming? The reader follows Herman Mussert as he imparts some of his life’s memories through, what he surmises to be, the continuation of his immortal soul.

This novella spans the lightweight feel of 115 pages but is so heavy that my mind was nearly blown away. Not so much with what is written but with what is not written. Mussert makes the impossible possible, and just when we think we are beginning to get a steady foothold, we instead find ourselves treading quicksand. If it’s true that our lives flash before us in the blink of our death then it is equally true that the remembering is our magnum opus. Is the dream our life? Or is the life our dream?

Extremely well written. Uncharted fictional riches. Nooteboom uses words I didn’t even know existed. One warning though, familiarity with Ovid’s Metamorphosis would be most helpful prior to engaging with Mussert. Hell – prior to engaging with Nooteboom!

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