(((READ EPUB))) ↴ De helaasheid der dingen ☞ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free

We do not forget that literature has another face, that of responsibility, awareness, commitment It is the last that attracts me Dimitri VerhulstJust another Belgian dipsomaniac proletarian coming of age story, albeit one with a Tour De France drinking competition and a multipage homage to the genius of Roy Orbison The Misfortunates is brutal and never flinching, never allowing any moralizing in its episodic survey This was likelier farhilarious than it should have been for me My r We do not forget that literature has another face, that of responsibility, awareness, commitment It is the last that attracts me Dimitri VerhulstJust another Belgian dipsomaniac proletarian coming of age story, albeit one with a Tour De France drinking competition and a multipage homage to the genius of Roy Orbison The Misfortunates is brutal and never flinching, never allowing any moralizing in its episodic survey This was likelier farhilarious than it should have been for me My reaction likely represents me as a darkish coot I am pretty cool with that The novel makes no effort to glorify the unfortunate nature of addiction and depravity All the characters understand the situation, most are simply powerless in its wake I did expect a return from the posh side of the family later in the novel after such an interesting arrival the retrurn didn t occur That isn t really a spoiler in the context of things (((READ EPUB))) ☠ De helaasheid der dingen ⇱ In De helaasheid der dingen keert de schrijver terug naar zijn geboortegrond in Reetveerdegem We maken kennis met zijn vader, Pierre, die zijn paar uur oude zoontje in een postzak op zijn fiets langs alle kroegen van het dorp rijdt om hem aan zijn vrienden te tonen zijn grootmoeder, wier nachtrust al te vaak verstoord wordt door de politie als die weer eens een van haar dronken zonen thuis komt afleveren en niet te vergeten de werkloze nonkels Potrel, Witten en Zwaren, voor wie een wereldkampioenschap zuipen het hoogst haalbare is en die leven volgens het adagium God schiep de dag en wij slepen ons erdoorheen De helaasheid der dingen is zowel een gevoelig ode aan als een hilarische afrekening met het dorp van een jeugd Every third novel nowadays seems to have a dysfunctional family at its core So indeed does The Misfortunates by Belgian author Dimitri Verhulst But on second thoughts, I m not so sure that the family we re concerned with here should be tagged with that particular label Although they are undoubtedly comfortably installed at the very lowest rung of society and not in any hurry to ascend the ladder any time soon held back by constant inebriation, sloth and a regrettable tendency to fix everyth Every third novel nowadays seems to have a dysfunctional family at its core So indeed does The Misfortunates by Belgian author Dimitri Verhulst But on second thoughts, I m not so sure that the family we re concerned with here should be tagged with that particular label Although they are undoubtedly comfortably installed at the very lowest rung of society and not in any hurry to ascend the ladder any time soon held back by constant inebriation, sloth and a regrettable tendency to fix everything with their fists they possess a quality that is perhaps not necessarily part of the make up of dysfunction as we have come to understand that term This quality is a fierce loyalty to the family unit, a well developed sense of the importance of forming a united front against all comers.We first get a glimpse of the Verhulsts in the opening pages of the novel and what an eye opener this is with a horrifyingly funny and I suspect accurate picture of the bear cave lifestyle of a bunch of boozing bachelors complete with a habitual indifference to the sartorial conventions and toenail parings scattered all over The narrator is Dimitri Verhulst, teenage son of Pierre, one of the notorious Verhulst brothers In tried and tested tradition Pierre has moved back to his mother s house with his son in tow in the wake of an irrevocable breakdown in his marriage This is what the Verhulst brothers do once their tawdry relationships go down the drain, they move back to their widowed mother s place where they will be looked after while they pursue the only things they live for wearing out the well established route from pub to pub in their backwater Belgian town, always on the lookout for available women, and bashing in the faces of anyone who dares to look at them twice They do not hold much with the idea of work, so mounting debts make the bailiff a regular visitor to the house ditto the police officers who knock on the door at all hours, bringing tidings of one or the other brother s latest arrest for any number of misdeeds andoften than not news of a hospitalization as a result of yet another barroom brawl Old Mrs Verhulst is so accustomed to these visits that she hardly bats an eye, and in fact berates them for their inconsideration in disturbing her rest at such ungodly hours The author concentrates on certain significant periods in the life of the Verhulsts In non chronological fashion, the reader is taken on a whirlwind ride taking in many surreal incidents There is a decrepit canine that has a very valid reason for doing Dimitri and his barely older uncle Girder serious harm an unexpected visit from a social worker to establish whether the young Dimitri is cared for properly an elaborate drinking game based on the Tour de France Pierre s brave decision to check himself into a psychiatric clinic in a determined effort to dry out with pit stops at every pub on the way there and plenty of time for pool and darts and the brothers becoming involved in a folklore professor s madcap research project into drinking songs as part of the Belgian cultural heritage the Verhulsts reputation as dedicated alcoholics making them the ideal candidates for assisting with the study There are also sections concerning the adult Dimitri s ambivalent feelings towards an unwanted son fathered in a reckless moment of sexual gratification To what extent the novel is autobiographical, is anybody s guess The fact that the author chooses to link his own surname to that of the main characters not to mention bestowing his own name on his narrator could be significant, but then again it may not have any bearing whatsoever on anything Verhulst writes convincingly enough of these larger than life grotesques making it hard to believe that they only ever existed in the confines of his wildly inventive imagination What is abundantly clear, is Verhulst s ability to create unique characters that are thoroughly original in word and deed, likeable to the extent that references to sweaty feet and bodily functions brilliantly define them without in any way diminishing them This is a highly entertaining read, rendered in prose that is uncompromisingly tough on the outside, but as tender as a new born kitten on the inside I saw the movie years ago, only now I read the book I was quite excited about the film, certainly about the beautiful imagery, the visual reconstruction of a marginal environment in the 1970s in rural Flanders It made me think of my own youth not that it was as marginal and squalid as in the Verhulst family, but it came close The renewed acquaintance through the book was less successful some scenes such as the Roy Orbinson reunion at the home of an Iranian refugee couple were as hilarious I saw the movie years ago, only now I read the book I was quite excited about the film, certainly about the beautiful imagery, the visual reconstruction of a marginal environment in the 1970s in rural Flanders It made me think of my own youth not that it was as marginal and squalid as in the Verhulst family, but it came close The renewed acquaintance through the book was less successful some scenes such as the Roy Orbinson reunion at the home of an Iranian refugee couple were as hilarious as in the movie, but the accumulation of squalid scenes, constant inebriation and endless vile language workedrepulsively.What struck me in the book muchthan in the film is the intellectual layer that is inserted in the narrative of the little Dimmitrieken , the youngest of the Verhulst clan, a youth version of the writer himself Observing and describing the extreme behavior of his uncles, he regularly uses very expensive words to explain this behavior psychologically it s a way of story telling that creates distance between him and them This distancing stands in contrast with the warm sympathy the narrator also clearly feels for the unbreakable bond between his relatives and the glorious intensity of their loose way of life.Only in the last quarter of the book the much older Dimitri Verhulst clearly comes in view as story teller, the celebrated writer, the intellectual who outgrew his marginal environment, but still struggles with his roots When he passes the village of Reetveerdegem in English this is something like Arsechester , but it actually exists in Flanders once again, he feels like a stranger, a traitor even But once a Verhulst, always a Verhulst, and so he still feels a strong bondage and even compassionate sympathy And from his sarcastic commentary on how he fared later, you can conclude that he doesn t think he did so much better than his uncles he also did not escape the fate of the misfortunates the original Dutch title is much better, perhaps a better English title would have been something in line with Kundera the unbearable emptiness of life It is this personal ambiguity that constitutes the strength of this book, muchthan the grotesque outline of a marginal environment 2.5 stars Dimmy is twelve and lives with his father, three uncles and his grandmother in her crappy old house in the fictional town of Aresendegem, Belgium Since the four brothers are serious beer drinkers who live to drink and watch Roy Orbison on the telly the house is filthy and Dimmy has grown up sleeping in the fug of his father s drunken breath, ever since his mother left and they moved here His uncles Heavy, Herman and Girder are all pretty interesting blokes, and Dimmy loves them all Bu Dimmy is twelve and lives with his father, three uncles and his grandmother in her crappy old house in the fictional town of Aresendegem, Belgium Since the four brothers are serious beer drinkers who live to drink and watch Roy Orbison on the telly the house is filthy and Dimmy has grown up sleeping in the fug of his father s drunken breath, ever since his mother left and they moved here His uncles Heavy, Herman and Girder are all pretty interesting blokes, and Dimmy loves them all But at some point, he grows up to realise that a life of drinking, fighting, smoking, sleeping and then starting it all again the next day isn t for him.It wasn t until I was about halfway through this relatively short novel that I realised the main character and narrator had the same name as the author I know, how could I have missed that Once I did notice it, the novel shifted its footing from fiction to memoir, and I ve no idea how much of this really is based on the author s life I got the feeling quite a lot of it is promotional material for the book described it as semi autobiographical I also started to wonder, especially by the end, whether this book slotted in amongst the author s other novels, something that needed to be read in conjunction with all his novels, in order to get the full picture the fact that, towards the end, he skips over a great deal and leaves out a lot, left me sadly disappointed and dissatisfied at the end though I would also say that he knew when to stop, and that s something I sometimes wishwriters would learn.The Misfortunates is highly entertaining, quite funny, rather sad but always honest and surprisingly upbeat This isn t one of those oh woe is me memoirs or novels of childhood abuse and addiction The Verhulsts are quite proud of their drinking, and they re living the life they want to live As Dimitri describes the homes he s lived in with his father, and his father s convictions such as they are you get a clear sense for this family and what Dimitri s life was like It s like this I spent my first years with my parents in Kanton Stret on a tiny courtyard with a communal water pump and a communistic toilet a hole in a plank, directly above the septic tank Water ran down the inside of the living room walls and we stuffed balls of newspaper into the worm eaten window frames to keep out the wind My father always spoke of the inconveniences of our residence with pride longing for an easy life was a clear sign of inadequate masculinity and when we finally moved to Mere Street his grandmother s house it was only to be even worse off Our new toilet was a hole in a plank as well, but this house had the advantage of a leaking roof And we cherished the rotten, mushroom sprouting death trap of a staircase over the cellar as a prime example of proletarian architecture My father was a socialist and went to great lengths to be recognized as such For him, possessions were nothingor less than extra dusting You didn t own them, they owned you If a burst of unexpected thrift put us in danger of reaching the end of the month with a financial surplus, he hurriedly plundered the bank account and drank his entire pay packet to protect us from the temptations of capitalism Unfortunately my mother revealed herselfandas a bourgeois cow she was too vain for worn out shoes and filed for divorce after just ten years of marriage When she left, she took everything that wasn t nailed down, thus granting my father ultimate bliss pp.2 3 Translated by David Colmer, an Australian, the story reads extremely well and has wonderful flow There s a great deal of humour, though it s often of the sardonic, ironic or black comedy style, the kind of humour that makes the realities of the story both easier to read about and that muchtragic and heavy of heart I initially wanted to read this because I was looking for a book set in Belgium, but I don t know if it s because of the translation or because this is indeed reflective of life there in the late 20th century and it just happens to be all too familiar, but it was easy to imagine I was reading a book set in Ireland, say, or Manchester or many other places where men go to the pub in the evening and poverty s a bitch you can t escape or a lifestyle that becomes ingrained Dimitri recounts certain chapters, or vignettes, in his life, moving back and forth in time sometimes, but deftly creating a clear picture The chapters each focus on a memorable time in Dimitri s life, like when his cousin Sylvia and her mother came to stay to escape her abusive father, or the summer he and his friends hung out on the pond rumoured to be where a crazy old lady drowned all her babies The time his uncle Girder, only sixteen himself, he devised a Tour de France of drinking is quite the story five miles equaled one beer, and there were certain drinks that had to be consumed on particular legs, and different jerseys to win Girder ends up in the hospital for that one, and we never do learn who won the race In fact, many of them end up in hospital after drinking too much his uncle Herman for the contest to win a Guinness World Record, and his own father ends up voluntarily entering a psychiatric clinic in order to stop himself from drinking It s rather vague whether that worked or not, in the end, but it s clear what led to his decision.We knew that thoughts come at night, in bed, and we suspected that my father had lain awake in mortal fear, feeling the pain in his body, in his liver, his stomach, his chest And that he, alone with his thoughts, lost his brave acceptance of physical deterioration We couldn t exclude the possibility that he had licked his sopping hands, discovering to his horror that he had started to sweat alcohol, that his body was defeated and no longer knew how to get rid of all that fluid, that it had started to leak it out of all possible pores and holes My father now tasted like beer and his armpits smelled like it too Maybe he had already noticed the whites of his eyes growing yellow, his steady loss of weight A drinker s coffin is seldom a heavy burden, undertakers are always glad to carry them, and our family would have saved a lot of money if we d been able to pay for our funerals by the pound Did he think that night about the worms that were besotted by the deliciously fermenting bodies of dead soaks and made the soil of our graveyard so rich that the gravediggers spent their working hours growing carrots and spinach between the collapsed and forgotten tombstones of a previous generation of chain drinkers p.100 I was very absorbed in this story, which is why I was so troubled in the last two or three chapters when it started to skip around in Dimitri s adult life, completely skipping over what I would have thought were pivotal moments in his life, just abruptly dumping us in a new scene without any kind of transition, or not following up on a previous story to tell us the outcome True, the focus on the story turned out to be the four Verhulst men and their drinking, their lifestyle and Dimitri s memories of them, but the connection between them and Dimmy s decision not to follow in their footsteps not that he abstains or anything , is not present in this story It disrupted the flow and made it feel like I was missing a section or two.This is indeed a story of the misfortunates, those who have arealistic view of the world p.129 , and Dimitri s love for his uncles and father It s also a story of Dimitri s childhood, sharing certain chapters from his life that paint a clear and interesting portrait of his life growing up in this small, run down town, in a decrepit house with a fiercely loyal family There s nothing self indulgent about this story, nothing melodramatic it s tone is one of wry humour, deep affection and pride, as well as a shake of the head at the waste and foolishness It is a refreshing read after thebleak stories Australian and Canadian writers produce, or theself indulgent and uplifting stories from America It left me with questions, true, but that doesn t take away from its attributes A wonderful story, wonderfully told.They also made this book into a movie you can see the trailer for it here If you have ever wondered why the anonymous seventeenth century author of Three Moneths Observations of the Lowe Countries referred to them as the buttocks of the world this book will explain everything I was reminded of this bilious quote because the Verhulst family, the central characters of this book, live in the back of beyond village of Arsendegen, which I assume that the author has made up along with the other extraordinary events that form the plot.If it is not made up, even if it is If you have ever wondered why the anonymous seventeenth century author of Three Moneths Observations of the Lowe Countries referred to them as the buttocks of the world this book will explain everything I was reminded of this bilious quote because the Verhulst family, the central characters of this book, live in the back of beyond village of Arsendegen, which I assume that the author has made up along with the other extraordinary events that form the plot.If it is not made up, even if it is only semi autobiographical, then the author has been extremely lucky, and owes a great deal of thanks indeed to his unfortunately named social worker I am not going to tell you the name because that is one of the most mindboggling aspects of the story And, yes, it does mean what you will think it means It will not give away the story to tell you that the Verhulst family have an affinity for alcohol that makes Rebus Ian Rankin s books or Gus Dury Tony Black s books look like slouches, indeed beginners, in the throes of piss artistry.And it is from this that the whole story begins Sit back and marvel, and wonder how little Dimitri will get through it all This is Belgium as you have never thought of it before Tintin will never be the same Based on the protagonist s sharing the author s full name, and the little information about Verhulst available in English, this short, episodic novel appears to be autobiographical Somewhatthan half of it focuses on Dimitri s boyhood, surrounded by the raging drunks that are his father and three uncles In these chapters Dimitri himself almost disappears, but one gets the sense of a narrator struggling with the tension between his affection and nostalgia for these incorrigible relatives, Based on the protagonist s sharing the author s full name, and the little information about Verhulst available in English, this short, episodic novel appears to be autobiographical Somewhatthan half of it focuses on Dimitri s boyhood, surrounded by the raging drunks that are his father and three uncles In these chapters Dimitri himself almost disappears, but one gets the sense of a narrator struggling with the tension between his affection and nostalgia for these incorrigible relatives, and his ultimate rejection of their lifestyle after they fail him in ways that are largely left to the reader s imagination In later chapters Dimitri appears as a not particularly endearing adult, and the book becomes evenepisodic it s almostof a short story collection than a novel as major events are referenced only in passing It makes sense thematically but leaves a great deal untold.The book is set in Belgium and originally written in Dutch, but the translation is skillful and flows well Early on some of the descriptions wallow in the muck to a fairly repulsive degree generally related to bodily fluids , but this is less a feature of the entire book than of the early chapters And they do speak to an eye for detail The individual characters are not especially distinguishable, but the culture of Dimitri s family and his community come to life the encounters between the men of the family and Dimitri s refined, well off aunt and cousin, and later a cultured immigrant family, throw their mostly well intentioned boorishness into particularly sharp relief There s an adept balancing of entertainment value and the narrator s darker view of the world, sprinkled with brief, pointed references to the meaninglessness of life.There s certainly something to this book, and some readers will connect strongly to this ode to a dysfunctional family But the narrator s emotional distance combined with his often poor treatment of others once reaching adulthood, the episodic nature of a story without any unifying plot, the gross out factor, and the rather limited, child s eye view of the primary characters made it difficult for me to become engrossed in the story We ll call this one a neutral reference wowee The writing itself is good, but I just didn t like the subject at all I didn t finish the book. It s a book about men behaving very badly.Dimitri lives with his father and three uncles They all live with their mother after having failed relationships The men are serious, serious drinkers who do nothing with their lives except drink, womanise and fight people who have the temerity to insult them or their family They eat nothing but raw mince and sardines, they are unclean and have no respect for anyone except themselves.It s a book of short stories, or episodes in Dimitri s life and the It s a book about men behaving very badly.Dimitri lives with his father and three uncles They all live with their mother after having failed relationships The men are serious, serious drinkers who do nothing with their lives except drink, womanise and fight people who have the temerity to insult them or their family They eat nothing but raw mince and sardines, they are unclean and have no respect for anyone except themselves.It s a book of short stories, or episodes in Dimitri s life and the stories are funny but incredibly depressing at the same time Each chapter holds a gem or two of wisdom, humour or pathos