The Foxes Come At Night
'One of the most remarkable writers of our time... The outstanding characteristic of his writing is its elegant intelligence' Alberto Manguel, Guardian.
'Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom's short novels are exquisite toys for the broken-hearted, erudite tales that revolve around themes of loss and despair but are never less than playful' Jonathan Gibbs, Independent.
'The eight stories in ... Cees Nooteboom's latest collection share a Mediterranean setting and lightness and touch which make them ideal holiday-reading' Wayne Gooderham, Time Out.
'Nooteboom ... is full of surprises and makes every word, every observation, not only count but also linger' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times.
'This collection of short stories confirms Nooteboom's reputation for elegance' Adrian Turpin, Financial Times.
'This book will never augment the bestseller charts, but its low-key form bears greater truths than any number of noisily marketed 'masterpieces'. Nooteboom's preoccupations are romantic, but his treatment is not whimsical: close observation, precise imagery and sardonic wit are evident in all the stories ... It is melancholy, but there is conviction in the modest approach that renders this artful work of fiction both wise and beautiful. It is elegantly translated from the Dutch by Ina Rilke' The Literary Review.
Set in the cities and islands of the Mediterranean, and linked thematically, the eight stories in The Foxes Come At Night read more like a novel, a meditation on memory, life and death. Their protagonists collect and reconstruct fragments of lives lived intensely, and now lost, crystallized in memory or in the detail of a photograph. In 'Paula', the narrator evokes the mysterious, brief life of a woman he once loved; in 'Paula II', the same woman is aware of the man thinking of her. No longer a body, she is slowly fading into the distance, remembering the time they spent together, and his fear of the black night when the foxes appear. And yet the tone of these stories is far from pessimistic: it seems that death is nothing to be afraid of.
Nooteboom is a superb stylist who observes the world with a combination of melancholy and astonishment. These stories are textured with humour, pathos and vast knowledge, the hallmarks of this outstanding and highly respected European writer.
Cees Nooteboom was born in The Hague in 1933, and now lives in Amsterdam and on the island of Minorca. He is a poet, a novelist and a travel writer whose books include Rituals (1983), The Following Story (1994), Roads to Santiago (1997) and All Souls' Day (2001).
Ina Rilke is the translator of books by W. F. Hermans, Erwin Mortier, Tessa de Loo, Dai Sijie, Margriet de Moor and Arthur Japin. She has been awarded the Vondel Prize, the Scott Moncrieff Prize and the Flemish Culture Prize for Translation.
June 28, 2011 8:12 am
This collection of short stories, linked by its themes of absence, loss and death, is surprisingly life-affirming. It is amazing what acceptance of the human condition can do.
Beautiful prose, vivid imagery. Not a word wasted. A real find and a book I will no doubt revisit.
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July 19, 2011 1:13 pm
This is Cees latest collection to be translated in to English ,Cees Nooteboom is a dutch writer ,he has written numerous books fiction and non fiction .He has won numerous awards and I was lucky enough to interview him yesterday on the blog .
Now this collection is a theme collection of short stories ,the themes are ,memories ,death looking back at life’s lost moments ,lost loves .As you can tell this is Cees looking back on life ,when I first heard of this collection and read the synopsis of the book the book that sprung to mind was Kazuo Ishiguro nocturnes came to mind even more so when the first story was called Gondolas ,but this is so much better the stories all stand alone and don’t feel as thou they been worked at to fit a theme as a couple of the nocturnes stories did.These stories are touching and thoughtful works ,a man who thinks of a past love Paula then the story is flipped as she sense he remembering her this is drifting story of dreams memories and love ,we drift through the Mediterranean through ex pats ,these stories are meditations on lives lived and lovers lost ,Cees is a craftsman at his writing and Ina Rilke the translator who managed to keep the wonderful poetic feel to these stories ,I don’t want give away too much as I think you need to read these to appreciate them .Memories and old age which is what this book is really about is something that I love having worked at the beginning of my vocation with older people and done some work on memories involving a play worked from the collected memories of the people I looked after ,this book gave me that feel it wasn’t Cees life more a collection of people stories and experiences thrown together and blended by Cees to these small gems and flashes into people’s lives .Lizzie Siddal said she felt uncomfortable with the looking back feel of the book ,I didn’t but working with people and experiencing death a number of times I was touched by them .
Back in his empty apartment in Amsterdam he waited for news from her ,letters written in an unaesthetic ,almost naive american hand ,margins splattered with zodiac and scillian signs to ward off the evil eye ,and wondered what on earth he had written in reply .He no longer knew which of them had stopped writing , but he had a clear memory of the excitement he had felt ,a good twenty years on ,at receiving a letter written in the old familiar scrawl
from the opening story Gondolas .
Another thing unbook related that this collection reminded me of was the work of the late Johnny cash his American collection of albums which rung with his life and people he’d known like this collection ,these two artists in later years both looking back ,but still making wonderful art ,like Cash’s work which I love, Nooteboom seems to have got better with age here is a writer that knows his craft and how to use it without feeling like he is going oh yes I m Cees Nooteboom ,like you get with some of his contemporaries in english do from time to time .The collection is 150 pages long and I read it on the train to London which wa perfect as on a rainy day I was transported to Spain , Italy and other places .So I d say this book is a perfect wet Sunday afternoon read ,it is one that will stick with you for a long time after you put the book down .
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