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impac-winner, summer-2010, published-2006, one-penny-wonder, dutch-root Read from July 01 to 05, 2010
** spoiler alert ** Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer.
IMPAC winner 2010
First line - I've put Father upstairs.
Bettie said on Apr 02, 2013, 13:39
I found this a very strange, yet compelling, story. It's about a man, Helmer, who lives on a farm in Holland. Helmer is in his 50's. He looks after a small flock of sheep, and cares for two donkeys. The only other person in the farmhouse is his dying father. At the beginning of the story Helmer decides to move his father to a room upstairs so as to be out of the way. He doesn't get on with his father, yet he washes him, toilet's him, and feeds him; though often with some reluctance. This strained relationship goes back to his youth. He had a twin brother. The father favoured the brother. The brother had a girlfriend. They intended to marry. The brother was killed. Now, years later, the girlfriend who disappeared completely after the funeral, phones Helmer. Now Helmer faces a different life. He has to change, and think about the past.
The story is compelling due to the slow and gradual unfolding of the action. Not that that there is any action as we might generally understand the word. But I wanted to know what happened, I was curious as to what the story was all about. In the end it was not what I'd expected!
GraJon said on Feb 03, 2011, 16:24