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Vallende ouders

A. F. Th. van der Heijden

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Title: Vallende ouders
Author: A. F. Th. van der Heijden
Genre: Novel
Written: 1983
Length: 471 pages
Original in: Dutch
Availability: Fallende Eltern - Deutschland
  • Vallende ouders has not been translated into English
  • Vallende ouders is the first volume of the series, De tandeloze tijd (sort of -- there is a prologue-volume, too)

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Our Assessment:

B : neat, though ultimately too diffuse picture of mid-70s Holland

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Berliner Zeitung . 22/11/1997 Jens Bisky

  From the Reviews:
  • "Es sieht so aus, als glaubte der Autor, durch detailversessene Schilderung der Körpersäfte und ihrer Absonderung der Wahrheit ein Stück näherzukommen. (...) Der Autor scheint mit sich und seiner Welt zufrieden, sein Werk strahlt ein gleichgewichtiges, in sich ruhendes Mittelmaß aus. Man fürchtet, die Ruhe durch Lesen zu stören." - Jens Bisky, Berliner Zeitung

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:

       Vallende ouders focusses on narrator Albert Egberts' student years in Nijmegen. Albert isn't the most convincing of university students, and little of the book has to do with academia. Instead, Albert drinks, sleeps, and fritters away as much time as possible while doing as little as possible.
       The book is set in the mid-1970s. Albert lives with his friend Thjum in a house owned by Thjum's family -- who are much better off than the Egberts. It allows for a comfortable existence, even if it means an uphill climb on the bicycle for that last bit, but as the two would-be students reveal themselves too obviously as good for nothings their cozy arrangement is taken from them. Albert is told he has to move out.
       Typically, Albert does nothing, making no arrangements where he might go until the day he is kicked out. Eventually he drives around half of Holland with the moving van, going from place to place looking for somewhere to stay until he winds up back in the lap of his family.
       Albert does a great deal of drinking -- "alcohol seemed the solution for almost everything" -- and a fair amount of womanizing, but it is a largely empty existence. He has vague plans to move to Amsterdam and finish his studies there, but like almost all his plans they remain unrealized. Some women almost manage to get a hold on him, but that isn't much of an opportunity or solution for him either.
       Returning to the parental fold he also recounts some of the family history, including his parents' tumbles and falls. They, like all the other elders, can hardly be looked up to as ideals whose lives are worth emulating.
       Vallende ouders is a broad, panoramic look at Dutch life in the mid-70s. Egberts' family somehow gets by, in decidedly unremarkable fashion. Albert wants to escape this small-town, small-country mentality into which he feels almost locked in, but he can't, largely choosing only the easiest escape -- alcohol -- and waking up every day to a largely unchanged (and indifferent) world.
       The novel is full of small stories and episodes, many of excess and indifference. Van der Heijden does a nice job of presenting this atmosphere, but over the long haul it can also be a bit much. Still, a good picture of part of Dutch life in the 1970s.

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Vallende ouders: Reviews: A. F. Th. van der Heijden: Other books by A. F. Th. van der Heijden under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • Index of Dutch literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Dutch author Adrianus Franciscus Theodorus van der Heijden was born in 1951. He is the author of numerous highly acclaimed novels, including the multi-volume saga, De tandeloze tijd.

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