Even (Can you believe it!?) SPORTS STORIES.
But hey. This is literature in translation, which most Americans never bother to try. *preens self-mockingly* At least I can say I was doing something "good for me." Thank goodness it didn't require any specialized historical or cultural knowledge--otherwise, I would've been truly stuck and unappreciative.van den Brink, H. M. On the Water. Trans. Paul Vincent. 2002. New York: Grove, 2003. (First Dutch Edition: 1998)Summary
: On the eve of WWII in the Netherlands, the working class Anton and the middle class David take up competitive rowing together, and they may have even made it to the Olympics, if history hadn't gotten in the way.Comments
: Actually, this semi-consequential novella had a few things going for it. Pretty language and imagery. More about training for competitive rowing that I ever wanted to know about. I admit I was hoping for a bit more character development and explication of the relationship between the two boys, but I didn't get that. Apparently, they only are able to transcend the boundaries of economic and social class when they are on the water. You get the sense that the war got in the way--their trainer was German and the club's boathouse is to be torn down in order to better-defend the city--but it reads more as a apolitical anthem of self-realization through physical exertion (your classic sports story) as well as a lament about the opportunity of lost youth. I would've been better off reading Friday Night Lights
. At least that sports narrative is a true one. *sighs* Notes
: trade paperback, American editionRating
- An elegantly-written novella, but you better REALLY be interested in sports and/or rowing.