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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

The Consequences

by
Niña Weijers


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Consequences



Title: The Consequences
Author: Niña Weijers
Genre: Novel
Written: 2014 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 298 pages
Original in: Dutch
Availability: The Consequences - US
The Consequences - UK
The Consequences - Canada
Les conséquences - France
Die Konsequenzen - Deutschland
  • Dutch title: De consequenties
  • Translated by Hester Velmans

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Our Assessment:

B+ : unusual but appealing mix of a story

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Frankfurter Rundschau . 23/12/2016 Cornelia Geissler
Le Monde . 2/3/2017 Florence Noiville


  From the Reviews:
  • "Minnie bricht gern ihre selbst auferlegten Regeln. Sie ist eine schillernde Figur in einem klugen Roman über die Kunst zu leben -- mit vielen Überraschungen." - Cornelia Geissler, Frankfurter Rundschau

  • "La naissance. L’identité flottante. Qui on est dans le regard d’autrui… Ces thèmes sont au cœur des Conséquences. Au début, pourtant, le livre ressemble davantage à une série de variations brillantes sur la scène artistique contemporaine. (...) Dès les premières pages, le ton est donné. Ironique et acidulé. Weijers se moque du narcissisme extrême qui imprègne ce milieu." - Florence Noiville, Le Monde

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The central figure in The Consequences is Minnie Panis, an up-and-coming artist in her twenties. The novel opens with a Prologue which sees her falling through a patch of ice, on 11 February 2012: "The day Minnie Panis vanished from her own life for the third time". Most of the rest of the novel is set in the time around that event -- especially what leads up to it -- although two sections move back to her infancy (1984) and childhood (1991).
       Minnie was born very prematurely, and even as an adult is below average size -- still "childishly petite" as a full-grown adult. She does not know who her father is -- something her mother, the indispensable right-hand person of the director of the Cancer Society, never talks about. Mother and daughter aren't terribly close -- meeting regularly, but on neutral ground, not at each other's homes, for example --, each something of a mystery to the other.
       Among the mysteries is the baffling one of Minnie's name -- one she finds she shares only with the Disney mouse-character (and: "the creepy old lady in Rosemary's Baby");

It was hard to imagine her mother, who strove for the utmost degree of normality and conformity, choosing that name. And so Minnie chose to assume it had been her father.
       Minnie burst on the scene with her senior project at art school, the first in a variety of projects that all explore a similar question: "Does Minnie Panis exist ?". The first involves a daily ritual of photographing her trash for a year and a half - "generating exactly 2,095 photos of her own work" -- while a later project, Nothing Personal, involves her selling off essentially all her possessions.
       A few months before she falls through the ice, in August 2011, Minnie broke off a (pretty much purely sexual) relationship she was having with a fashion photographer -- after spending the night at his place for the first time, a change in their routine that led her to end it. Admitting the affair to her boyfriend, she loses him too, as that night with the photographer sets in motion considerably more than she could imagine.
       The first consequence is revealed to her a few months later, when she learns the photographer took pictures of her while she was sleeping -- which make quite a splash and get her even more exposure, making her an even hotter property. Upset at the violation -- he took the pictures without her permission -- Minnie demands her pound of flesh, devising a project of her own: she gets the photographer to agree -- with official contract and everything -- to:
shadow Minnie her for three weeks and photograph her. He was to work from a distance, with the utmost discretion, and under no circumstances would he ever interfere, no matter what. There was to be no contact between them during this time.
       Minnie isn't even to know exactly when he begins tailing her; there is only a set date in late March when he is to deliver the pictures -- however many or few he wants -- to a lawyer. They sign the contract in early January -- and go out for drinks and dinner afterwards, eventually leading to further unintended consequences; which, once again, Minnie will only become aware of quite a while after they were set in motion.
       Before the stalking-period is to begin, sometime in February, Minnie also receives a letter from a mysterious organization called CBTH, which notes that she received treatment there in her childhood. She has no memory of this, and can't imagine what it's about, but eventually the story does look back upon what led to her going there in 1991-2, when she was seven years old -- as well as an earlier treatment period under the same doctor's care when she was an infant, when her desperate mother had brought her back to the hospital, freaked out about her baby that isn't like the other babies, not (just) because of its diminutive size but because it doesn't react: baby Minnie didn't cry. Ever.
       The looks back to her infancy and childhood are interesting episodes giving some insight into Minnie's unusual character -- and they're creatively imagined. That the man who helped see her through these unusual phases crops up again in the present day seems a bit convenient -- even if it is plausible he became aware of what was going on in her life through the press coverage she has been getting. Still, even if how things play out seems a bit of a stretch, Weijers' presentation of their present-day finding each other again is sufficiently intriguing -- in characters and action -- to allow one to look past that.
       Readers are prepared for what happens -- Minnie is going to fall through the ice on that Saturday in February -- but there's enough mystery to the circumstances, and enough else, to keep readers fully engaged leading up to that. Especially since things rarely happen here exactly as one might have been led to expect: so too the project she and the photographer agreed to, which doesn't quite work out as planned.
       Weijers weaves the story very appealingly, with a nice sense of mystery that doesn't really get to be too irritating, even as some things remain unexplained and many characters (intentionally) indistinct. Minnie, and Minnie-as-artist, is very much at the center of the novel; she is also generally very much on her own. The exercise she proposes, of having the photographer stalk her and, essentially, record her life without her knowing (or at least without her being aware, in the moment, that he is doing it) is much like the novel as a whole. The story presents Minnie -- but from some distance, observed but not fully known. At the same time, the character is shown, in a variety of ways, grappling with that basic question of 'who is Minnie Panis ?' The question is reflected in her own art work, as well as the reactions to her work (especially in and by the media). And, indeed, some of the basic identity-questions about her -- such as who her father is, but also questions of her own behavior and thinking -- are ones she doesn't seem to know any more about than the reader.
       The Consequences does deal with the question of 'art', and contemporary art in particular. Minnie meets both Sophie Calle and Marina Abramović, for example -- but Weijers doses the art-speak and theory carefully and well. Minnie's own projects and attitude help keep the novel from losing itself too much in some of the absurd possibilities. If not exactly down to earth, Minnie does remain grounded, and leery of taking 'art' too seriously:
Truly, Minnie thought to herself, for some lunacies you couldn't come up with any word other than "art."
       The Consequences does go in some odd directions -- including some of the theories the doctor who treated Minnie offers, especially of life 'cycles' -- and there are some strange (seeming) coïncidences, especially when Minnie collects some men's wallets when she is a youngster, but Weijers weaves it all together agreeably enough that they aren't too troubling. Even as she remains enigmatic, Minnie is a very well presented strong character, and Weijers' unusual life and art story is engaging throughout: she knows how to spina and tell a story.
       Thoroughly enjoyable and agreeably provocative.

- M.A.Orthofer, 29 September 2017

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Links:

The Consequences: Reviews: Niña Weijers: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Dutch literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Dutch author Niña Weijers was born in 1987.

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© 2017 the complete review

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