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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Leon de Winter

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Title: SuperTex
Author: Leon de Winter
Genre: Novel
Written: 1991
Length: 253 pages
Original in: Dutch
Availability: SuperTex - Deutschland
SuperTex - Italia
  • Dutch title: SuperTex
  • SuperTex has not yet been translated into English
  • SuperTex was made into a film in 2003, directed by Jan Schütte

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Our Assessment:

B+ : solid entertainment

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Die Zeit . 4/11/1994 Martin Martin Lüdke

  From the Reviews:
  • "De Winter hat ein gutes Gefühl für den effektvollen Einsatz seiner Mittel. (...) Die Moral stimmt auch. Zudem haben wir uns gut unterhalten. Literarische Bedenken zu äußern, das wäre kleinlich. Das ist europäische Literatur" - Martin Lüdke, Die Zeit

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:

       In SuperTex, as in so many De Winter novels, yet another Dutch and nominally Jewish man looks back on his life and wonders why, despite all the trappings of success, he feels like something has gone terribly wrong. The man is Max Breslauer, and he's led to reflect on his life when he goes tearing through Amsterdam in the symbol of his success, his Porsche 928S, and nearly barrels into a Hasidic family on their way to the synagogue on this Sabbath. He doesn't kill anyone, but he does get an earful, and he is prompted to think about where he stands.
       Max needs to talk, so he hires the services of Dr.Jansen, a seventy-year-old Amsterdam shrink. The one requirement he had in originally choosing a shrink was that she not be Jewish -- and Dr.Jansen isn't -- but his Jewish roots are obviously part of his problem. It takes some convincing -- and a considerable premium over her usual hourly rate -- but Max hires Dr.Jansen for the day, and that's what SuperTex is: an account of this day, consisting for the most part of the account he gives to Dr.Jansen while on the couch.
       In typical De Winter-style, background is only slowly filled, the pieces from the past slowly brought to the fore until the big picture comes together. The events of that day compete with biographical detail from long ago, but both story-lines are only slowly completed. The roundabout approach can be a bit annoying, but De Winter does it as well as anyone and, as usual, it's quite successful here.
       Max didn't immediately follow in his father's footsteps, but he eventually took his place in the very successful family business that has been built up since the war, SuperTex -- Euro Textil International BV, which specialises in the lower-end clothing market. His father recently passed away, and among the things he left behind was a mistress -- much to Max's surprise. The mistress wants to be taken care of -- the implied threat being that old Mrs. Breslauer will otherwise learn of her husband's affair -- and, after some misunderstandings, Max obliges. Really obliges.
       The woman who was the love of Max's life, Esther, couldn't quite get over her past and wound up embracing religion to an extent that Max couldn't keep up with. He tried his hardest, even flying back and forth to Jerusalem when she insisted on moving to the promised land, but it wasn't meant to be. And she's not the only one that abandons him because she finds her Jewish roots: Max's brother, Boy, also sees the light just as he's about to be married of to a nice Jewish girl: sent to Morocco on a business errand by Max he too finds a place where he belongs.
       For Max the answers aren't that simple, though he realises that he's probably pushing it: a Jew in a Porsche (i.e. a car with all those Hitlerian associations), that's not really a good match. Despite the artificial way the novel is framed -- a day on the couch -- De Winter never lets the narrative get too static, and he is inventive (and amusing) enough in the episodes and histories he relates that it's an enjoyable read. In the same class -- and very similar in feel, if with that very Dutch and even more Jewish quality to it -- as the more manageable of John Irving's novels, De Winter's SuperTex is solid and thoughtful entertainment. Good fun.

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SuperTex: Reviews: SuperTex - the film: Leon de Winter: Other books by Leon de Winter under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Dutch literature

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About the Author:

       Dutch author Leon de Winter was born in 1954.

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