An Extract from ‘Dateless Days’

The hundreds of things you’ve done wrong in your life. Not necessarily on purpose, it may have happened through stupidity, clumsiness, thoughtlessness, by mistake, out of spinelessness, or with no intention at all. Sometimes a poisonous memory suddenly sneaks into your brain, like an intruder throwing a piano wire over your head and pulling it…

Jeroen Brouwers’s Paper Monument

‘My death will be the only thing I haven’t described’ was the concluding sentence of Jeroen Brouwers’s ‘Self-Portrait with Eraser’, which he wrote at the age of thirty-seven. Six years later, in the introduction to The Final Door (De laatste deur), his book of essays on suicide in Dutch-language literature, he noted: ‘I’m a writer…

Extract from ‘The Flood’

Balikpapan, 1947 Sometimes, in Balikpapan, we went away for the day, to swim in a ‘real’ swimming pool that had escaped destruction in the war. ‘We’, meaning a lot of Salikpapanese’, Dutch families who lived in Balikpapan. About ten jeeploads of us would drive northwards along the coast in the still-grey darkness of the morning.…

Quest for his Dreamland

Jeroen Brouwers’s East Indies Triptych For several centuries now writing has no longer been an activity exclusive to gentlemen of leisure, but even in the twentieth century there are still writers around who are lords and masters of a piece of land, a city, or a building. Faulkner exercises his authority over Yoknapatawpha County, Proust…