Tommy Wieringa is a Dutch writer, and this slim novel(la) is the first I’ve read by him: I can’t remember where I ran across his name but he’s been on the Wish List for months, and I took the plunge a few weeks back. And I’m very glad I did. It’s a wonderful little read, and not a little heartbreaking. It is the short story told in clear, spare prose of a husband detailing the (spoiler alert) breakdown of his marriage and life, partly as the result of a child and his own imperfections.
Edward, the protagonist, is an eminent virologist and is very successful – he sees and falls in love with a beautiful blonde called Ruth who becomes his wife in short order. From the start, the cracks appear – from differences of opinion about science, morality and capitalism – and Edward soon slips off into mistakes and infidelity to prop up his insecure masculinity.
What follows is disconcerting, depressing and utterly believable in equal measure – and done with precision, but also an empathy and understanding for all the people involved. It is a short, honest narrative that spirals but also reveals a huge amount as it goes. And the translation is brilliant in its unobtrusiveness.
Highly recommended; I will be seeking out his other work.
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