Like most first fiction this novelwritten in the 1950sis a painful story of a love found, then lost. But in his first effort, Nooteboom already showed an astonishing grasp of language, an impatience with mediocrity, that presaged the later critical successes of Rituals and In the Dutch Mountains . The book opens with the narrator, Philip, aged 10, visiting his Uncle Alexander, a timid homosexual who introduces Philip to the world of music, his first taste of escapism into the arts. Later Philip returns and lives with his uncle before embarking on a trip through postwar Europe. As he hitchhikes he hears many unusual and wonderful stories. In Provence he meets a grotesquely fat man called Maventer, who tells him about a half-oriental girl who disappeared to find ``life behind the first, visible realitya life that is tangible and trembles.'' After an obsessional search, Philip finally locates the girl in Denmark, but after a heady love affair she leaves him, restless for her freedom. Nooteboom has told this story from the inside out, exposing the turbulent depths of his characters. His poetic imagery lingers. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988 Release date: 09/01/1988 Genre: Fiction
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