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Tonio een requiemroman by A.F.Th Van der…

Tonio een requiemroman (original 2011; edition 2011)

by A.F.Th Van der Heijden

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2661742,770 (4.04)5
Title:Tonio een requiemroman
Authors:A.F.Th Van der Heijden
Info:Amsterdam De Bezige Bij 2011
Collections:Your library
Tags:nederlandse literatuur, amsterdam

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Tonio een requiemroman by A.F.Th. van der Heijden (2011)


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Tonio van der Heijden died prematurely at age 21 in 2010 after being struck by a car while cycling back to his flat at 4a.m. His distraught parents Adri and Miriam have no choice but to get on with their lives, but how do you when you know your child will never come home again? It is an absolutely tragedy and a devastating tale.
Adri, the author of this requiem, is obsessed with knowing exactly what happened to his son and embarks on a quest to put together Tonio’s final days and hours to work out what led him to the place where he was killed. The problem is this whole 500 page novel tells us more about Adri than about Tonio , Tonio by the way whose parents believe the sun shines out of him and he can do no wrong. Neither father or son sparked a great deal of interest from me.
It may have been different if it had been written differently. Considering first that this is an English translation of a book of Dutch origins and also that it is written by a man in an enormous amount of pain, I still had trouble with it. It was too much – too sad, too depressing, too bleak, too devastating. I can only take so much of that. There was a lot of repetition throughout the requiem, of feelings and emotion and the sentiment that Tonio was just such a good boy, that it honestly felt like it was much too long.
I also felt like, with Adri’s obsessive tracking down of Tonio’s last hours and in particular the girl Jenny, who had modelled for the young photographer, that Adri was trying to create something for Tonio that was not there, or possibly could have been there if Tonio had not died so suddenly. The author had tried to draw the reader into some great mystery – I was waiting for a less-than-perfect Tonio to appear from the ashes, something that puts his death into perspective. But I had to remind myself that this was not a novel, and life has no plot. It just is. The problem then arises when you try to relate life into a book and you end up jerking your readers around for 500 pages, from past to present to unnecessary anecdotes. I understand the point of this book for Adri in his healing, because there is no doubt that this is a very sad death. But it comes down to it that simply Tonio had not had enough time to build a life that was interesting enough to relate in requiem. I found it hard to be invested in this book and it is sad, but that’s the way it is. Not everyone gets to live a life worth writing about and it’s a tragedy that Tonio never got to have his, but this story in this case didn’t turn up anything captivating to read about. A painful 1 star. ( )
  crashmyparty | Aug 11, 2016 |
A.F.Th. van der Heijden is one of the most important contemporary Dutch authors. His most impressive novel cyclus to date consists of the 5-volume cycle De tandeloze tijd. A second multi-volume cycle of novels is underway. Besides, Van Der Heijden (1951) has published a number of novels and short story collections. A number of his works are marked by the sub title as "a requiem". These publications were written to commemorate friends or family members. Between 1986 and 2012, Van Der Heijden published three such "requiems": De sandwich commemorates the death of a youth love and youth friend of the author. Asbestemming is presented as a requiem for his father, and Uitdorsten. Klein requiem voor mama, mam, ma for his mother. In his latest, grand novel and requiem, the author laments that he had never foreseen that one day he would have to write a requiem for his son. That requiem was published in 2011; Tonio. Een requiemroman, a requiem for his son, who died in a traffic accident in 2010.

Matrimonial happiness is often a spoiler of great art. A.F.Th. van der Heijden is essentially an autobiographical author, and between 1988, when his son was born, and 2010, when his son died, he devoted several short stories to describe his son and family. Some of these were included in Engelenplaque (2003) (Diaries) and Gentse lente (2008) (short stories). These short stories about domestic happiness are all very sentimental, and of little interest to readers of the authors main works. Although these fragments were used in the composition of Tonio. Een requiemroman, the author has found a way to reach a much higher level of literary achievement. The dramatic impact has spurned the author to the creation of great art.

In Tonio. Een requiemroman, Van Der Heijden has rediscovered the authorial voice that was so characteristic of De tandeloze tijd, and many readers missed in the much less well received new cycle of Homo Duplex. This sense is felt strong, as the setting of Tonio. Een requiemroman is the same as the most succesful novels in De tandeloze tijd cycle, notably De gevarendriehoek, and Advocaat van de Hanen, namely the city of Amsterdam.

Tonio. Een requiemroman describes the life of Tonio van der Heijden in meticulous detail, particularly the reconstruction of the last 24 hours of his life. It is a voluminous lament of the author and his wife for the loss of their son. The fact that this tome-like novel was published only a year after the death of Tonio is remarkable, especially because the author at first made the impression of being so devastated that he might never be able to publish again.

Despite its size, exceeding 630 pages, Tonio. Een requiemroman never bores. It is extremely well-written, as the narrative swings between a very personal tragedy and universal significance. As the novel demonstrates, and the facts about the final hours of his life show, Tonio's death was a pure tragedy, in which "blind fate' destroyed the life of a young person, full of promise and ambition, leaving no one to blame. Naturally, the parents blame themselves, though even they learn that this should not be.

Despite the grave and serious theme of death, Tonio. Een requiemroman offers a sufficient dose of hilarity to make for attractive reading. In this sense of humor, the author reaches the best heights of his previous succesful work, a level absent from many of his works for quite a while. Readers will love the role played in the novel by the city of Amsterdam. ( )
  edwinbcn | Sep 5, 2015 |
van der Heijden has written an intensely touching and intimate requiem for his 22-year old son, who died in a car accident in the spring of 2010. He describes memories of long lost times, reconstructs the events of that fatal night, and wonders what life would have had in store for Tonio if the entire world had shifted for a mere second to avoid the crash.

The book is very long which makes it feel a bit 'too much' at times, especially near the end. And from time to time I can't get rid of the feeling that van der Heijden pays quite some attention to the flaws and 'small sides' of the people around him, and rarely to his own.

The story has little structure, but this helps in depicting the period of despair his wife and him went through after the accident and while writing the book. It is impossible to not wipe away a tear when several pages of happy memories are violently ended by a dark sentence about the unavoidable reality, cutting through your flesh and through your heart. Tonio is not here anymore. But van der Heijden has done everything he can to remember his son in the best way possible. ( )
  Differenti | Jan 24, 2014 |

Dit boek is rouw. geen rouwverwerking. A.F.Th. moet dit boek schrijven als zijn zoon Tonio is overleden en hij doet dat zeer indrukwekkend. Hij observeert zichzelf en zijn vrouw Mirjam nauwgezet en brengt verslag uit van hun gevoelens en handelingen. Wat dit boek zo goed en draaglijk maakt is de schrijfstijl: hoewel het onderwerp, de dood van
Tonio en de levens van degenen die achtereblijven, natuurlijk tragisch is, is dit geen (melo)dramatisch boek zoals IM van Connie Palmen dat wel is. Dit boek leert je hoe uitzichtloos het voelt als een geliefde is overleden. Maar het boek is veel meer: het is ook een ode aan het leven van Tonio, aan de hechte band tussen Adri en Mirjam en Tonio en een zoektocht naar de laatste uren van Tonio. Af en toe is het boek ontroerend, maar vaker imposant, mooi geschreven en een boek zoals alleen A.F.Th. het kan schrijven.
Zijn beschrijving van de huldiging van het Nederlands elftal dat de finale heeft verloren, doet sterk denken aan De tandeloze tijd.
Ik wilde dit boek eigenlijk niet lezen en al helemaal niet tijdens mijn vakantie. Maar het is gewoon een prachtig boek, dus ik ben blij met de aanmoediging vn enkele vrienden en vriendinnen om het vooral wel te lezen.
Toevallig was A.F.Th. Van der Heijden gast in de College Tour terwijl ik dit boek aan het lezen was. Daar beelden van Tonio, precies zoals hij in het boek wordt beschreven. Het gevaar bestaat dat je iemand oinsympathiek gaat vinden als hij zo positief wordt afgeschilderd, maar dat is dus niet zo met Tonio.
Ook in het boek: een opsomming van schrijvers die een kind hebben verloren, met als conclusie dat gedeelde smart geen halve smart is.
Van der Heijden observeert en schrijft alles op. Dagboekaantekeningen. ( )
  elsmvst | Jun 15, 2013 |
Een noodlot dat zich in een fractie van een seconde heeft voltooid, maar dat voor de nabestaanden voor altijd onvoltooid verleden tijd zal zijn. ( )
  Hollandy2k | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak whispers the o'erfraught heart, and bids it break. - Shakespeare, 'Macbeth' (IV, 3)
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy; My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy, Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay, Exacted by thy fate, on the just day. O, could I lose all father, now. For why will men lament the state he should envy? To have so soon 'scaped world's, and flesh's rage, and, if no other mesery, yet age! Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say here doth lie Ben Johnson his best piece of poetry. For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such, as what he loves may never like too much. - Ben Johnson, 'On My First Son'
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Ik heb zijn naam nooit vaker geroepen dan in de krap vier maanden die verstreken zijn sinds Zwarte Pinksterdag.
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