The Foxes Come At Night And Other Stories by Cees Nooteboom and Ina Rilke (Translator)
|The Foxes Come At Night And Other Stories by Cees Nooteboom and Ina Rilke (Translator)|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: A slim and beautifully presented book based in and around the Mediterranean. There's a recurring theme of loss, of memory, of those no longer with us and suggests to the reader to perhaps think in a positive rather than a negative light on these issues.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 252||Date: May 2011|
There's a bold statement on the front cover from, as it happens, one of my favourite authors, A S Byatt saying that Nooteboom is one of the greatest modern novelists so I thought that I was in for a treat. But I didn't enjoy the first short story. Not the greatest of starts. I was disappointed to say the least and was wondering what all the fuss was about. Then I started to read the story entitled Thunderstorm and things started to pick up. I appreciated the sparse and elegant language. Lines such as Five people at an outdoor cafe: two women ... a solitary black man ... a couple at a table nearby. Enough for a film. How lovely and evocative is that last line, I'm thinking. I read it twice as it was so good.
And as I worked my way through this short story collection, the one called Heinz really did grab my full attention. It's the longest of the collection. In my opinion, this is a piece of first-class writing (and I don't say that too often) and the author's creativity is wonderful. I couldn't get enough of it frankly. Let me give you a taster without risking spoiling it for you. Told in the first person, it's all about an old photograph depicting a group of people - friends or relatives perhaps. The narrator is one of the group which gives it added interest I think. And just one page in and there's the lovely line Skreeper may not be in the dictionary, but it goes rather well with deception. And it just gets better and better as the story unfolds. Nooteboom's descriptions (via the narrator) of this group are quite breathtaking in their creativity. In scathing terms there's a couple who are Expats, but home is only a two-hour flight away ... and ... the Easyjet plebs descending en masse on the outdoor cafes to sit around half naked, swilling beer. I thought of Spain having to put up with such abominable behaviour ... and of how near the bone that phrase can be.
In amongst all this rich prose is a fair amount of sophisticated humour eg: in the story entitled Paula Hard to say which is worse, getting old or being dead, but then you have never been old and I have never been dead. Clever and sophisticated and I loved it.
There are just eight stories in this slim volume and I liked some more than others which is usually the case. We all have our favourites. But the language used overall is undeniably gifted. There are phrases which stayed with me long after I'd read them. And although these tales are set in the Med it could be argued that they could be applied anywhere. Characterisation is strong in them all, so there are no geographical constraints. Okay, place names get a passing mention but they don't really star in any of the stories. It's all about the human mind, our memories and the human heart. How do we really feel towards others? Are we two-faced? Or are we honest? Age and the whole process of getting older is a bit of a theme in this book too.
After reading all eight stories, I would agree that overall Nooteboom is an outstanding narrator and storyteller. His originality in a turn of phrase or a sentence is terrific. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might like to try In-Flight Entertainment by Helen Simpson.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Foxes Come At Night And Other Stories by Cees Nooteboom and Ina Rilke (Translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Foxes Come At Night And Other Stories by Cees Nooteboom and Ina Rilke (Translator) at Amazon.com.
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