MINUET by Louis Paul Boon


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A trio of related monologues (translated from the Flemish). The otherwise unidentified first narrator--the husband--works in a cold storage plant. This is apposite, since he's frozen to his core. He loves his mannish, hypocritical wife but is also deeply disgusted by her. Not that he's much fonder of anyone else: ""the center comes into existence wherever the most boorish, most ignorant lout chooses to sit down."" But across this man's cold gaze passes the pubescent cleaning girl who works for his wife in the house. And when he's laid-up after an accident, the inevitable occurs. Then it's the girl's turn to tell the story, and then the wife's. This tripod of Weltschmertz is accompanied at the top of each page by grisly news items that the husband purportedly clips from each day's newspaper. They are not subtle. Nor is Boon's urge, near the end, to put into the wife's mouth what is the perfectly self-evident point: ""In spite of the frosty chambers the primeval urge had succeeded in breaking through the crust of ice--only to hit against the next obstacle: the layer of artificial ice of our civilization."" Obvious, pretentious work.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1980
Publisher: Persea