July 21st, 2002

emu

Kees van Kooten - Hilaria (02-021)

Van Kooten is a master in short stories. He has never written a whole novel in his life, though some of his books do have one single theme. Mostly he writes columns and stories though. He is very inventive, makes up new words if they express something existing words cannot, some of them end up in dictionaries. Together with a friend, he has made television programmes for decades. A couple of years ago they stopped doing so, nowadays he only writes. This book looks different than most books, most collection of stories. Pictures, drawings, different letter types and colours, in nothing this one resembles like a book. It's more like a magazine with a cover.

Underneath the easy stories and accessible surrounding, lies a brilliant mind. Van Kooten is the master of noticing small things. He can easily write a short story on something so trivial, you and I wouldn't give it a second thought. And he does so in a very amusing way. All of the stories in this book have been written for magazines and collections, still, together they are some sort of unity. He writes minutes of semi-important meetings everywhere, he becomes like a small child when he sees Joanna Lumley at an airport, talks with his mother about the missing cat and corrects a translator on his bit on the German author Heine. He describes perfectly how parents argue in a car during their holiday, though only via communicating with their child. Understands why real football players enjoy the game, regardless of money and knows that he is in trouble when his French isn't good enough to survive in the small French town where he has a second house. One of the best Dutch authors ever. Unfortunately, his stories are fairly culture bound, most non-Dutch people will never enjoy reading anything by him. Disadvantage of a small language.
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