Month: September 2019

Silence and solitude surrounded by fresh baguettes

It’s silent. It is always silent here. A rural area, farmlands everywhere, small villages with sturdy inhabitants that live with nature and the direct surroundings. The only “foreigner”, beside the many English that buy more and more houses in this region, is a 70+ year old farmer. His roots lie in Bretagne, he is “different”. There was a time he wasn’t alone, that just a couple of kilometers away another person from his home region lived here. But she was older than he, although just as sturdy. Even right before her death she managed a great kitchen garden, slaughtered her own chickens for dinner, milked a goat, only for fresh bread she had to wander into town. She might have been a foreigner in this region, she was as French as that fresh baguette that was preferred on her table.

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When research makes you lose faith in everything

I research a lot. For stories, for work, out of curiosity, out of sheer boredom. Believe me when I tell you that half the time you’ll find my nose either in a book or several websites while my brain is going haywire inside my skull.

However, lately the fun of research has shown that this coin has two sides… The topics I currently research for work have nothing in common with the exciting things I spent hours reading about the last couple of years. There are no tombs full of undiscovered treasure, hidden somewhere in the Amazon. There are no potential sight lines that, once discovered, might give a whole new purpose to Samnitic temples. And there are no psychological phenomenons involved that need explaining. The only thing I have seen in the last few days are documentaries on genocides, and that ain’t no picnic…

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Het Achterhuis, hoe recenseert men een klassieker die een instituut op zichzelf is geworden? Door ernaar te kijken alsof het meer kan zijn dan dat.

Ooit las ik het boek Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, en de passage die me het meeste bij is gebleven was onderstaande:
“CUSTOMER: Hi, I just wanted to ask: did Anne Frank ever write a sequel?
CUSTOMER: I really enjoyed her first book.
BOOKSELLER: Her diary?
CUSTOMER: Yes, the diary.
BOOKSELLER: Her diary wasn’t fictional.
BOOKSELLER: Yes… She really dies at the end – that’s why the diary finishes. She was taken to a concentration camp.
CUSTOMER: Oh… that’s terrible.
BOOKSELLER: Yes, it was awful –
CUSTOMER: I mean, it’s such a shame, you know? She was such a good writer.”

Het toonde aan hoe veel impact het dagboek van Anne Frank, die dolgraag schrijfster had willen worden en waarschijnlijk blij was geweest met het effect van haar woorden op mensen, heeft gehad over de jaren. En daarom ben ik wat huiverig om er een recensie over te schrijven. Het was de eerste keer in 15 jaar dat ik het dagboek weer eens las, de laatste keer zat ik net op de middelbare school. Maar tijdens het lezen besefte ik me: Anne Frank’s woorden gaan nog dieper dan ik ooit dacht.

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