in the beautiful chisel Ted van Lieshout is once again looking for a nuance in the heated debate over child abuse.
Exactly ten years ago my lord, the first adult novel by Ted van Lichot, is an autobiographical account of his relationship as an eleven-year-old with “Mr. Timmermans”. It garnered much praise from the literary world for the uninhibited way he portrayed intimacy, but it also caused a great deal of controversy.
Van Lichot did not refuse to have pedophilia, perhaps he himself was a pedophile. For example, he was forced to make it clear that he is a victim and not a perpetrator, that he does not defend the interests of homosexuals, but the interests of children at risk of persecution.
Five years later, he described the impact of past events on his further life in guilty childand carefully researching nuances that seem to have virtually no room in the violent social debate about child abuse. This counter sound, very subtle, closely related, also sounds chisel†
Handsome like George Clooney
In it, fifteen-year-old Antonij becomes sexually infatuated with a man he finds on a hot July day in the cemetery, who keeps him weed-free for some time. The man, Leo, in a quirky pose, carving delicate lines into the tombstone, his hairy butt slit tucked into his Versace underpants is clearly visible, and turning around showing he is as handsome as George Clooney. Anthony: It melted. Not from free but from it. In Petilar, he reports the day to the boy, who is completely derailed, but not in the way you might think, and ends up with Leo being arrested by the police.
He’s a funny kid, Anthony, disarmed like a kid, wise like an adult. He was abused in his youth when he was nine when his mother asked him about the strange bruise on his leg from the inside and he casually told her that an adult relative had kissed him there. “I didn’t think it would hurt to say it, but then the world collapsed.”
He describes himself in his memoirs as a garden in which all adults sit. “They cut down trees because they want to get to the bottom of something. They don’t see all the plants wither away from the bright sun and there’s no shade anywhere for me to hide. I have to stand all the time in the scorching full sun.”
Young victims are often inadvertently left out in the cold
Children also need privacy, says van Lichot in his beautiful new novel, Hysteria benefits no one, and young victims are often inadvertently neglected in the cold. This also applies to Antonio, who soon realizes that the conversations he has had with all kinds of ladies that have been published about the details he does not want to reveal at all, are not for his own good, but for his own. My mother needed help because she was the mother of an abused child who couldn’t handle him well, which I understand, because you don’t learn anything like that anywhere. But it was of no use to me…”
Then there is the judge who wants to know everything, everything to allow justice to prevail. The interests of adults are in no way compatible with the interests of children in sexual abuse cases.
Not a bleak story, on the contrary
Everything seems gloomy, dark and cold, and yet it is so chisel Not a bleak story, on the contrary. Van Lieshout understands the art of pulling painful subjects out of the shadows like no other. He has written poems, stories, and picture books for children (including the Boer Boris series), often on the theme of “difference” and has won numerous awards, including several Zilveren Griffels and a Gold Award.
The heart of his warm children’s book also beats in this story. It is this endearing Anthony, who looks at events with uncertainty, and at other times with conviction, that makes you think about what it means to be a victim, or to be seen as a victim, about the rights and obligations of minors and (sexuality), about the destructive power of the outside world.
Then there’s a thrilling subplot that adds an extra layer to the story and wraps around a mysterious grave said to contain an infant and an old woman, who died during World War II under strange circumstances. These different stories are beautifully intertwined and crafted chisel into a full-fledged novel that demands indulgence at times when all reasonableness sometimes seems to have vanished.
Ted Van Lichot
Querido, 176 pages, €18.99