Friday, 17 July 2009

Blue Mondays by Arnon Grunberg

I chanced across a copy of this in Guildford Library a few years ago. With its fruity cover and lure of the seedy side of life, I picked it up.



The narrator is a nihilistic youth chronicling his dead end life in Amsterdam; firstly his teenage years and his amorous pursuit of a girl called Rosie, then his early twenties spent drinking heavily and visiting prostitutes. Hardly elevating, but there’s something about the detached prose that I liked, and I wasn’t alone. Apparently written on a dare, it sold 70,000 copies in the Netherlands and went on to be published in translation globally.

The book is awash with booze but his father’s sozzled performance at his son’s bar mitzvah seems as good an example as any:

After the service there was a reception, and for some reason there was no vodka, only Dutch gin. So my father had tossed back quite a few little glasses of Dutch gin even before he started to shake people’s hands...
That evening my father sat next to me in a grey suit that had been made specially for the occasion. He didn’t open his mouth. But in the middle of a speech by some rabbi he suddenly pulled me toward him by the jacket and whispered, “No more gin for me ever again. It makes me go all to pieces.”


Curiously, when I tried to find the book in the library a year later, it had disappeared from their catalogue...

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