Sunday, 17 August 2014

Review: Out of Mind // Hersenschimmen

Title: Out of Mind (Hersenschimmen)
Author: J. Bernlef
Genre: Contemporary literature (I guess)
Year: 1984
Pages: 125

This novel was originally written in Dutch, and I've also read it in that language. As an English translation does exist, I feel justified writing this review in English. It should however be noted that I could not find an English copy (online) under 127 pounds. 

Out of Mind centres around 71-year-old Maarten who figures out he has been having trouble remembering  lately.  This story beautifully describes his and his wife's struggle with getting older.

As this is quite a short book, it will be no surprise I read this book within 24 hours. At one point, around page 100, I put it down as it was time to go to bed. However, it took me a while to disconnect with the fictional world, and mostly the protagonist. For some reason I remained in his mindset for some time, thinking I was the one with dementia. I clearly understand this sounds crazy, but I guess the only thing I can conclude from that is how phenomenal this author writes. It has been a while since I've been so engrossed in a novel - identifying with a character so much while he is so completely unlike me.
When I continued reading in the morning, it felt different. Because of Maarten's change in character, I felt completely disconnected, and although of course I cared for him, I could no longer feel the empathy I felt the previous night. It took much effort to get through the last pages mainly due to the writing style. Now I understand that this can easily be some literary device: the author allowing us to detach from the protagonist just like a. He does to himself, and b. The world around him does. However, it did drag on too long for me (considering the full length of the story). Therefore, rather than rating it 4 stars, it'll have to do with 3.5

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