The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society discussion

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Hamilton-esque books, authors.. > 'The Evenings' by Gerard Reve

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message 1: by Thomas (last edited Oct 24, 2016 12:29AM) (new)

Thomas | 12 comments Brand new in English via Pushkin Press, brought to my attention by this Guardian article.



Seems promising...

"'I work in an office. I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again. That is it.' Twenty-three-year-old Frits - office worker, daydreamer, teller of inappropriate jokes - finds life absurd and inexplicable. He lives with his parents, who drive him mad. He has terrible, disturbing dreams of death and destruction. Sometimes he talks to a toy rabbit. This is the story of ten evenings in Frits's life at the end of December, as he drinks, smokes, sees friends, aimlessly wanders the gloomy city streets and tries to make sense of the minutes, hours and days that stretch before him. Darkly funny and mesmerising, The Evenings takes the tiny, quotidian triumphs and heartbreaks of our everyday lives and turns them into a work of brilliant wit and profound beauty. "The funniest, most exhilarating novel about boredom ever written. If The Evenings had appeared in English in the 1950s, it would have become every bit as much a classic as On the Road and The Catcher in the Rye." Herman Koch, author of The Dinner "Unlike John Williams, Gerard Reve's work was critically acclaimed and sold exceptionally well during his lifetime. But, just like Stoner, The Evenings is brilliantly written, and has a maximum impact on the reader's soul." Oscar van Gelderen, the Dutch publisher who rediscovered John Williams's Stoner "Very funny and strange...Reve is a writer who may yet 'catch on' in the Anglophone world" Lydia Davis, winner of the Man Booker International Prize Gerard Reve (1923-2006) is considered one of the greatest post-war Dutch authors, and was also the first openly gay writer in the country's history. A complicated and controversial character, Reve is also hugely popular and critically acclaimed- his 1947 debut The Evenings was chosen as one of the nation's 10 favourite books by the readers of a leading Dutch newspaper while the Society of Dutch Literature ranked it as the Netherlands' best novel of all time."

Any dutch speakers read it already?


message 2: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3826 comments Mod
Thanks Thomas. I love the cover. I've also had good experiences with Pushkin Press - so it all augers well.

I've added The Evenings to my list of stuff to read. Thanks again.


message 3: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments Ever since the Pushkin Press rolled out the first English translation in 2016, I’ve been quite curious about this novel.

I finally began reading it yesterday and am presently 105 pages in.

If this is, as claimed, "The Netherland's best novel of all time," then the Dutch have a whopping fuck of a lot to answer for. In my estimation, it’s absolute shit and wholly un-enjoyable - if not unreadable. I should have guessed that a novel about boredom and tedium would be boring and tedious, so a big part of the blame surely must be placed squarely on me. I’m not giving a single thought to finishing the book, nor reading any further than this evening’s subway commute home dictates. Great novels are things that I escape into. I want to escape from this one.


message 4: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3826 comments Mod
A friend of mine read it about six months ago - think he was a bit underwhelmed. Though perhaps not as much as you Mark as I think he finished it. I might be seeing him in an hour's time so I will ask, and add another comment if there is anything else to say.

Thanks for the warning though Mark.


message 5: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments Please do, as I’ll be curious. I’m not even able to work out what the appeal might be. It takes a lot for me to abandon a book... this one would be tortuous to continue with.


message 6: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3826 comments Mod
Sad to say, my pal was there tonight and I completely forgot about asking him for his final impressions. Next week I'll do it.


message 7: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments Nigeyb wrote: "Sad to say, my pal was there tonight and I completely forgot about asking him for his final impressions. Next week I'll do it."

I think you’ve unwittingly proven my point. It is an immensely forgettable book even for those who have not read it.


message 8: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments I’m [hopefully] righting that particular wrong by tucking into A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment, by John Preston, and enthusiastically recommended by Paul Willetts.


message 9: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3826 comments Mod
I feel confident you will become immersed. I hope so.


message 10: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments So far, so immersed. Riveting stuff, and seems -- on my shelves, at least -- to neatly complete a trilogy that also includes They All Love Jack by Bruce Robinson and In Plain Sight: The Life & Lies of Jimmy Savile by Dan Davies.


message 11: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3826 comments Mod
Yep, that's an insightful observation Mark.


All three books detail establishment corruption and collusion to serve and protect those with power.


message 12: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments As fascinating as it is distressing. I’ve also now got an eye on Smile for the Camera: The double life of Cyril Smith by Simon Danczuk.


message 13: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3826 comments Mod
'Smile for the Camera: The double Life of Cyril Smith' - that's a new one on me but it looks fascinating. I suspect it's another book well worth reading though - I've just added it to my list.

Yesterday I also heard about 'You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life You Are Raoul Moat ' written in the experimental docu-fic style of Gordon Burn. This is Raoul Moat's adult life as told by him in the ample papers and recordings he left behind. The narrative is pretty much entirely in his voice, with the author addressing you as him in the second person.

The Backlisted Podcast gave it a hearty thumbs up.

Immersing the reader in Moat's self-justifications, You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] is both an experiment in empathy and an exploration of the limits of empathy holding the reader hostage in the echo chamber of an angry and confused man's head. --Louis Theroux

We all know how the story ends, but this balled fist of a book reads like a thriller. --Dan Rhodes, author of When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow

Andrew Hankinson's You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] is an account of Moat's last days that, written in the second person and drawing on diary entries and previously unheard tapes, reads like a novel. --Tom Gatti , New Statesman





message 14: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments Many thanks for the Hankinson tip, which looks like a worthwhile purchase!


message 15: by Doug H (new)

Doug H Nigeyb wrote: "Yep, that's an insightful observation Mark.


All three books detail establishment corruption and collusion to serve and protect those with power."


Did someone mention collusion and corruption?

*waves from across the pond*


message 16: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1349 comments Doug wrote: "Did someone mention collusion an..."

Bingo! For me, these books clearly show that Trump’s actions are not without precedent, and nor is the protection that he’s getting from the GOP at large.


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