Girls, girls mmm, sigh, swoon, moan, moan: ‘They make everything dance, they belong to the spring breeze I can think of, the open windows, the open garden doors, the garden, with the scent I like to think of so much, the scent of a garden Having just broken in, in that scent there is a fresh start and soft comfort. Thomas Verbugt (1952) wrote this in his new novel Make it beautiful. Until the spring breeze. that does not become stormy. Not in mind, there is not.
Ma-mie-moe-mie girls … also in Unavailability Tim Crabbe (1943) talks about it all the time. The main character, like the main character in Thomas Verbogt, is an old writer named Giel Labij, who spends his entire life chasing after what he refers to with a catchy ugly word as “the girl”. Not that he wants to be a girl himself, no, “childhood” is “unattainable sweet torment”, “atmosphere, a world, a fluid full of girlish mystery”. This is where he roams, where he likes to stay.
Deep, deep impression
What a jerk. It’s hard to keep your attention on these novels. Both books are about men who do not know how to persevere, who do not choose, who stare at their navels. Both novels enumerate basically everything, a whole life, but without crises, clashes, etc.
With Verbogt, everything happens for the main character. From the moment the main character, also called Thomas Verbogt, takes his first steps in a park in Nijmegen, guided by his mother, he does not choose a direction. It’s more that the direction he chooses all his life, and he thinks and thinks about it. He walks into the “story that changes itself around me”. Even his writing career begins “all of a sudden.” This also applies to the main character in Krabi.
At Verbogt, girls can hardly be distinguished. It’s not about them either, it’s about the deep, deep impression they make on the main character. Not on the reader. The real subject of the novel, like Verboget’s previous novels, is time. And whether it matters.
It is said over and over again that “nothing ever ends”. Whatever happens is and remains important. Memories are equal to the value of events, or even especially if they are partly made up, as is the case with memories. Mixed with imagination, everything (in value form) becomes fuller, denser and coherent. Verbogt makes this point over and over: ‘Didn’t that memory stop being a memory for a while, but does it happen now or do you think it’s happening now, which is probably the same thing. Isn’t this the event that is the anniversary? Lose track in such lanes.
in Make it beautiful The main character does not distinguish the main issues from the side issues, any more than he does its author, the writer Verbugt. There are no lines drawn, hardly a story told, there is a walkthrough. It is mysterious and endless, and it goes on. When one of the “girls” in the book takes her own life at some point, the girl the protagonist promised to take care of (why it’s not clear exactly), it’s a relief. Something going on! But alas, still without consequences for the main character. Just like the revelation of another girl, about the blood relationship between her and the main character. Is that like? Does it change the main character? Well, no. It itches.
Tim Crabbe appears in Unavailability At first he behaves differently. With him, everything happens instantly in the foreground, at lightning speed. A widowed filmmaker knows true love in Las Vegas to remember his wife. He wins the jackpot, makes out with another jackpot winner, eats, dances and lives it up for a while, at the last minute. With an irresistibly mysterious girl? No, with an irresistible woman seventy-three and five years his junior. My God. Krabbé has believability and brilliance, conveying, in part in dialogue, how two people can find each other in no time, provided they are open to it.
Unfortunately, after that introduction, another major character suddenly appears: the old writer Jill Lapage, who has been avoiding “the great peril of love: getting to know each other” all his life. He confesses to many girls yes whether he likes it or not. He spreads his offspring, convinced that this is a “law”, and therefore the intent (who or what is not clear). There is only one seventy-three-year-old woman on the front with another man who knows him a little bit. Or he could know. must be aware. I want to know. When he realizes this, his chance is gone.
Her name is Laurette Delaporte. So Lorette “by the door”: a door he mistakenly considered a revolving door. Their first meeting, when they are still young and boisterous, takes place on a train. They just go out on the road together, visit a motel, and then each go their separate ways. This remains the case for the rest of their lives. Sometimes they visit each other, without real contact. He thought this was happening. Now it continues. And now too. But it will end, and then it will always end. It’s happening now.
In Krabbé too, it is actually about the passage of time, although in his book the main character, unlike Verbogt, eventually realizes that there was a choice. Unfortunately, this only challenges the main character at the end of the book, when intervention is already impossible. Until then, there was no struggle, not even an internal one, except for a small moment when he almost allowed two feet on his ‘sneaker’, the foot of the girl who, later, belonged to him, seeing her from the cellar. The diminutive shows how little he appreciated their importance. Until it’s too late. we will.