“I didn’t see it as a threat to my relationship.”

at signs of the universe (Subtitle: “A Report on Obsession”) Amy Coopman, 37, writes about her crush on Canadian A. “Although the book is presented as a novel, it is not mine, nothing in this story was made up.”

Dewertje Mertens

This love may be complicated – both Emy Koopman and A. are in a relationship – but it seems predetermined. Copeman provides accurate reports of meetings, back-and-forth text messages, and phone conversations with A. It analyzes their reactions. “It is a book about loss of self, control, masculinity and femininity.”

Copman meets A during tapings for the VPRO Paradise Canada (2020) series He is the reformer. One evening she ends up in a hotel room with A., because there are not enough rooms in the hotel where she and her crew will spend the night. They even crawl into bed together, but since they’re both in a relationship, nothing happens.

They keep in touch when Koopman returns to the Netherlands: they text and call each other – knowing her friend Johannes. In the summer she and Johannes leave for Montreal for two months. There the spouses meet as often as possible. A’s friend Charlotte is the only one who doesn’t know the tension between Amy and her longtime boyfriend.

Why did you want to write a book about this?

“The four of us spent a day and night in Charlotte’s father’s country cottage and were always on top of each other. I thought: This dynamic is too exciting to do nothing with for once. This is where the idea of ​​writing a story about a couple who deals very differently with a taboo attraction arose.” .

The moment you fall in love with another person, this is usually a reason to take a critical look at your relationship. Not for you?

“It was very clear to me a different kind of attraction with this fixer than I have with Johannes. I didn’t see that attraction as a threat to my relationship. I won’t be moving to Canada soon.”

What drew you to A?

“The attraction was not there right away, but it developed gradually. We had a similar situation in the crew. The others were older and more experienced. For this reason, we were already attracted to each other. Then it turned out that in the same month my father died, he lost his mother. Because This discovery, suddenly became really visible to me. The relationship was nurtured because we shared something. He also studied literature and also wanted to be a writer. He had a tattoo on his forearm for the symbol that philosopher Georges Patai used for his magazine – I’m infatuated with Bataille. Of course I also found it physically attractive” .

Don’t also show the reader that infatuation is largely in the head: it’s also what you make of it. In your app traffic, for example, I don’t think A. looks attractive, just a bit boring.

“He tried to joke. I found that very touching.”

He was also often defensive.

“But that’s attractive, because he wasn’t always defensive. Sometimes he showed more emotion than I did. It really started when we spent the night together in that hotel room. I said very cautiously:It’s a shame we’re not single. He said:I haven’t felt this way in six years.Feeling this other person is so much fun, and it also makes you let your own feelings go. It gave the impression that he had very strong feelings, so I kept looking for it.”

Not looking for a relationship. What do you really want from this guy?

“At first I basically wanted to keep him, I wanted to be as close as possible. But if he let me hold him to my heart’s content, I probably would have liked more of him.” A little later: “My imagination was that we could spend a week out of the year together in a hotel.”

You describe your relationship as a “door ajar”. what do you mean by that?

“We don’t know that either, we are still trying to figure it out. This whole situation was a first try.”

You write of your friend Johannes: “To see his jealousy as something to be noticed, without judgment.”

“It was important for him to know I wouldn’t leave him. We made agreements about it. He could view his jealousy as something of an ego that he didn’t produce. My love was not about us.”

Are emotions restricted by conventions?

He laughs: “That’s risky.”

How do you want him otherwise?

“We agreed that we wouldn’t limit each other in this regard. It should also be possible in reverse. I think I would find it difficult and insecure, but I haven’t explored it yet. As long as this attraction is something completely different, I hope I can handle it. It’s A problem only if your partner loves the other person more than you do.”

You did everything in your power to make your rival Charlotte love you. why?

“It wasn’t done consciously. Looking back, I see that I almost tried to buy her. I think I convinced myself that I really wanted to be friends with her. At some point she had had enough of me, I understood. This dynamic between women is very interesting. There Always things that don’t get talked about.”

She described it well in the book: “This silent ballet full of smiles, cans, nods, and stabs to death.”

“Specifically. I couldn’t understand her. I thought she knew something was going on between me and her boyfriend, but I’m not sure. She kept taking the initiative to meet up, while later explaining that she wasn’t happy that something happened.”

A recurring theme is the story of the little mermaid who sacrifices herself for a man so much that she drowns in sea foam.

“There’s everything in the story that you might find problematic, but the little mermaid is strong too. She makes many sacrifices to get to her lover—and that’s a form of erasure and purpose: she must and she’ll get what she wants. Everyone wants to get what they want, but what are the ways The legitimate way to get it? This is something that a lot of women struggle with. We used to laugh well and not take up much space. We look for other ways to get what we want. I wondered: How personal is this and how much is this what we have been taught since childhood? You will never get it a clear answer to that.”

What do you think? And Charlotte in writing this book?

Of course they couldn’t read it, for it was in Dutch, but when I asked them if they had any objections, Charlotte said, ‘Wow, good luck with that! “I don’t have any contact with them at the moment.”

Amy Koopman (1985, Groningen) is a writer, journalist and presenter. She studied literature and clinical psychology and earned her Ph.D. with thesis in Literature and Empathy. Previously posted by her Orewoot (2016) and The book of all fears (2020). In 2020 I introduced VPRO paradise canada


Signs of the Universe – Amy Koopman. Prometheus, €21.99, 384 pages.

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