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In the Dutch Mountains

by Cees Nooteboom
144 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Victor

An interesting tale, though it could definitely use some higher morals.

Plot

This book is half fairy tale and half devoted to the narrator telling said fairytale. The narrator, Alfonso Tiburon de Mendoza, is head inspector of a Spanish roads department, and he likes to spend his summer vacation time writing stories in an empty school-building. Tiburon is an older man who only wears blue and some of the roads he inspects get special treatment because he likes them. He muses on the nature of storytelling and picks apart all the key points of his fairy tale as he tells it. In his fairy tale husband and wife Kai and Lucia work at the circus, but work is scarce and in the move to a new town Kai is kidnapped. So of course, Lucia and a friend go to rescue him from the villainous ice queen.

Morality

As soon as Kai and Lucia cross the border from the north into the south, laws don't mean anything, and only powerful people run the show. Kai and Lucia both slip into infidelity as if it were inevitable. The author doesn't really pass judgment on these things; he mostly describes the events.

Spiritual Content

Lucia meets up with some sort of cult in a cave, they are called the screemers. The leader has a monistic worldview of all things being God. He also explains how if all things are God then sin is part of God, and that we can do no wrong if we only enjoy now because it's here.

Violence

There is a car accident, a man is beat up, and a woman is shot.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Kai is drugged when he is kidnapped.

Sexual Content

A border guard is too thorough in his frisking down of Lucia. The circus director tries convincing the couple to do a live sex show. Lucia and Kai both have relations with other people in different chapters. There is a description of the screemers that sounds orgiastic.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

No crude language.
The border guard's actions are not strictly professional. Kidnapping.

Conclusion

This was a very entertaining book, fairy tale aspect included, and I grew to be very fond of the narrator, old Tiburon. I enjoy his pondering on all sorts of things, especially as it is done from a schooldesk much to small for him!

However, I think the interaction with 'the screemers' and Lucia was unnecessary. I think even a predestined fairy tale does not need sex to be complete.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 2.5
Written for Age: adult

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