Title: De zomer hou je ook niet tegen
Author: Dimitri Verhulst
Page count: 94 pages
Rating: 1/5 stars
Here in the Netherlands we have a yearly event called “Boekenweek” which translates to “bookweek”. In this week, you get a free little book when you spend 12,50 euro on Dutch books in a bookstore. That little book, a different one each year, also serves as a free trainticket on a specific day.
Most bookshops however, don`t take the “only give this when a customer spends 12,50 on a Dutch book” thing too seriously, and so I got handed this book when I bought a Dutch children`s book for 9 euro and an English book for 14.
Now, I`ve never been one for Dutch literature. In fact, I tend to avoid even books that are translated to Dutch from a different language. I`ve probably talked about my dislike for the Dutch language in general before, though I don`t think I mentioned my hatred for Dutch literature.
I`m not even exaggerating. I have yet to find a single book from a Dutch literature author that I like instead of being annoyed all the way through. I generally find them pretentious and annoying. They have a tendency of assuming you speak 5 languages, will therefore happily have entire sections in Latin, French, or German, or they`ll mix them up. The general use of language has a definite “I`m better and more posh than you mere consumerist writers” air over the books, and it annoys me to no end.
Still, I decided to try this little novella anyway, what with having gotten it for free and all that. And, you know, maybe I`d be surprised for once! Maybe this one would finally be different, maybe I`ll have learned to appreciate the fine art of Dutch literature over the past couple of years.
And, surprise! I hated it. It was a cynical, pretentious thing with absolutely no surprises or plottwists. The main character was just deplorable, kidnapping a 16-year-old handicapped kid who may or may not be his son, just so he could get drunk with him in France and essentially abuse him (“I forgot to bring your medicine, though judging from the happy look on your face you`re just an excuse for pharmacists to earn some money”, and “I didn`t bring any of your diapers, but I hope sitting in your own junk is at least nice and warm”) while ranting on about what a hot piece of ass his mother was. Literally, all the men in this book seem to care about is how hot the women are, and how often they can pick up new ones. The main character cheated on his wife, and was absolutely ok with it because apparently first marriages are a mistake anyway.
There was no other point to this book either, no “this character is obviously a horrible human being but there`s a lesson here!”, no redemption, there was seemingly no other literary purpose than just shocking people and it was done badly, at that.
It`s only redeeming factors were that it`s less than 100 pages, and that it was free. I will still be giving it to a charity shop. Plus it allowed me to travel for free on one day, allowing me to visit a good friend of mine (who first gave me another book for my birthday before we went on to buy another 4 books).
If I ever find a Dutch book I do like, this will be the first place you`ll find out. But this book was definitely not it.
*One small note: I know the writer is Belgian, and that the language use in Belgian Dutch is different. Trust me, I lived right next to the border for almost 7 years, I know. But there`s fancy Belgian language and there`s utterly pretentious and cynical language, and this book is the second.