In the Dutch Mountains by Cees Nooteboom
Translator – Adriene Dixon
Original title In Nederland
Source review Copy
Well I’ve cover his short stories before now and Also have an Interview with Cees Noooteboom here on the blog ,he is the best known living Dutch writer and someone frequently mention for a Nobel Literature prize .This book is a reissue of his 1984 Novel and this one book is probably the most perfect piece of writing I have ever read ,but also shows the Plaudits given to Nooteboom are due .This is one of two books Maclehose have reissued the other being Rituals which I hope to read soon .I would also suggest reading the Intro by Alberto Manguel .
I am a foreigner ,but I still remember it all ,and I don’t intend to keep quiet about it .My name is Alfonso Tiburon de Mnedoza .I am inspector of roads in the province of Zaragoza ,part of the ancient kingdom of Aragon ,in spain .In my spare time I write book .As a student I spent some years in Delft on a scholarship to study road and bridge building ,and I might as well say at once that the nortern Netherlands have always inspired me with fear ,a Fear that demands a capital letter .
He was touch by his time in Holland .
In the Dutch mountain is The story of a writer retelling a classic fairy tale with a new setting .The writer is a Spaniard Alfonso Tiburon de Mendoza ,he works in the Zaragoza region of spain as a road inspector ,he is a failed man ,he has been writing ,but has never sold many copies of his book but every week he goes to a schoolroom and sits behind a kids desks and writes ,the story we join him on his retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson story the Snow Queen ,he has alter the name of the two main child characters too Kai and Luicia they are circus kids the setting is now in Holland the mountains of Southern Holland , where Alfonso spent some time years ago ,as we follow the story we also follow a bit of Alfonso life as we see the kids revisit the fairy tale of the snow queen as through the eyes of Alfonso .
Camino ,carretera, way ,street,road .It has always intrigued me that in Dutch the word weg ,way also means absent .In Spanish el camino is not only the road but also Journey .
I love how words can have dual means elsewhere myself .
This is what reading books in translation is about for me discovery and different approaches , I ve read books before about writers ,and them taking part in the writing process .But none have touched the mark as well as this one did he really caught the whole process .Alfonso is the perfect embodiment of the failed writer, he has it all in his head but seems to have failed over time in conveying it in what he writes ,through him we see how he is using a classic tale to try to spark his own writing but also use his own life to add to the fairy tale .A short book 150 pages it seems much longer (a cliché I know but its hard to say anything else its a real gem ) .I have books I know will stick with me for the rest of my life after I have read them for example rings of Saturn by W G Sebald or Wonder by Hugo Claus , Now I ll be adding this book to that list .Nooteboom also tackles what a fairy tale is a Alfonso takes apart a classic tale and rebuilds it in his own version we get an insight into what makes a great fairy tale and that is the parts of it not the story more what the story in its parts tell you .
Have you read this book ?
What was the last book you read that you knew was going to stick with you ?