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Het gouden ei by Tim Krabbé
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Het gouden ei (original 1984; edition 1993)

by Tim Krabbé

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4831321,297 (3.61)13
Member:laurenhynde
Title:Het gouden ei
Authors:Tim Krabbé
Info:
Collections:E-book, Gelezen
Rating:***
Tags:Dutch, murder, made into movie, thriller

Work details

The Vanishing by Tim Krabbé (1984)

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» See also 13 mentions

English (10)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)

Okay I definitely need to read something upbeat after this one (*goes to bookshelf … retrieves a [a:David Sedaris|2849|David Sedaris|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1213737698p2/2849.jpg] book*) or something worthy of a Literature student that unfortunately hasn’t read enough ‘good’ literature and thus shouldn’t be wasting valuable time on suspect reads such as this one (*plucks down an unread [a:Ernest Hemingway|1455|Ernest Hemingway|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1357893816p2/1455.jpg])*.

I’m glad I didn’t pay more than a dollar in the local op-shop for this one, but even so, I still feel like I was fleeced. At least with novels like [b:The Lovely Bones|12232938|The Lovely Bones|Alice Sebold|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312524577s/12232938.jpg|1145090] and McEwan's [b:The Comfort of Strangers|6872|The Comfort of Strangers|Ian McEwan|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320449391s/6872.jpg|1084689] you have some broody literary technique to fall back on amidst the rape, murder, or twisted seduction. Your stomach might lurch but you can at least appreciate the skill while you’re screwing up your nose in disgust.

It started out so promising: a cult novel, a novel of dark obsession. Oh that sounds like the ticket, I thought, affecting an English voice from [b:Brideshead Revisited|30933|Brideshead Revisited|Evelyn Waugh|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344269151s/30933.jpg|2952196]. I so badly wanted this book to contain something more profound than your average psychopath (yikes, are there so many that they've now become average?) After reading Jon Ronson’s,[b:The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry|9378733|The Psychopath Test A Journey Through the Madness Industry|Jon Ronson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1307825196s/9378733.jpg|14262366], my radar for creepy, cold-hearted weirdos has been seriously ramped up.

Interjection number one:
(In retrospect, Ronson’s book was a startlingly bad choice of reading material for an International flight to London, especially given that I was on my way to nurse my fragile mother in the ICU and therefore about to re-experience the usual mayhem which accompanies most encounters with the British medical system. I spent Sydney to Singapore psychopath spotting, and then some, and even in my half-bleary, sleep deprived state, I was convinced that the weedy manager tearing strips off the Eastern European cook in a Heathrow hotel, was a winning candidate for the nasty P word. For God’s sake, all the guy did was over cook the bacon. Lay off already).

Interjection number two:
I feel mean writing such a scathing review. My apologies to the author for my ungenerous words, but what can I say, we can't like everything.

Back to my unhappy review ...
If ever there was a time for reading ahead on the reviews for a book this was it. But I was enticed by comments from respectable US and British papers, which oozed things like: ‘A masterly work, concise, stylistically bold and full of surprises’. I have to say the only thing that I agree with in that sentence is the word concise. At 115 pages, it’s a couple hours read and I thought, ‘cult’?, ‘carefully constructed narrative’? … oh go on then, let’s give it a shot.

However, the reviewers are obviously seeing something in this book that I’m way missing (this isn’t the first time). This has a tendency to make me momentarily doubt myself. Am I missing some kind of dormant brilliance? Even so, ‘Graham Greene-esque travelogue’? ‘A tale of Mephistophelian friendship’? Sorry but no, not in my neck of the literate woods.

Besides, hasn’t this murder mystery storyline been done to death? In fact, is there really so much as even a drop of originality left in this sort of stuff? Well perhaps with erudite prose, and believable characters, yes, neither of which is to be found here. I mean how many ways can you throw a unique spin on evil, and why do we want further exposure to more of that sickness anyway? This is the standard fare of just about every police drama you can name. Absolutely nothing new here – for me at least. I’m obviously not destined for a follow-up career in criminology.

As for Rex, the main protagonist, he is the most cardboard, transparently written character I’ve run into in a long time. But more than this, he commits easily the most unbelievable character choice I’ve witnessed outside of a high school creative writing class. I think another reviewer echoed my exact refrain at that enthusiastically promoted ‘surprise’ moment, which went something along the lines of ‘you cannot be (expletive) serious’.

Really, this particular character is just not credible. He is nothing but words. The writer did not help me believe for even one minute that he would make the choice in the latter part of the book that he did, obsessed or not. I read on purely to notch off another text on the 2013 reading challenge. Shallow, but there it is. I promise myself to get more discerning from here on in.

Before I finish, I have to wonder aloud (thus committing to record) what the hell was the bit in the middle of the book about the tennis match, complete with elaborate but predictable (still wooden) descriptions of the players? I had to read back a little before surmising that this had zero to do with advancing the plot in any way (barring a stab at smouldering obsession, and failing), but at least it allowed the writer to convey his knowledge of the tennis scoring system.

Having written this, I did a quick scroll through the GR reviews and clocked the stars – many 3’s, a lot of 4’s and a few 2’s. I’m with those rating at the lower end of the scale. This book did nothing for me, apart from reinforce that I need to be more careful with my book choices.

And avoid overzealous, power-crazy restaurant managers.
Sigh.

( )
  ZenMoon | Mar 31, 2013 |
Being on holiday in the Netherlands, I wanted to read something by a Dutch author and this was the most interesting-looking book in the English section of the shop. I'd seen the Dutch film adaptation a few years ago and, having liked that very much, I had another impetus to get this novel.

Well, novel is pushing it a bit - at 115 pages of relatively large-font, double-spaced text, this is really a short story or novella and I read it in a few hours.

Anyway, a well written, engaging and chilling psychological thriller. There are no "blood-spattered" details of what happened to the "vanished" woman, but the effects of her disappearance on her boyfriend and the views into the mind of the man who abducted her are gripping. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Mar 30, 2013 |
What happens when someone you love vanishes into thin air? What would you give to know what happened?

This is a short, truly disturbing thriller. A pared novella that hones events into sharp focus ramping up the impact. The obsession of having to know, the shocking evil someone can commit. The mystery is of course is what exactly happened and Krabbe keeps this under wraps until the end. The mystery centres a story that flits through time and points of view, it’s not complex; more carefully disjointed. I cannot really fault it, although it’s hard to like poor Rex (the guy who is left behind).

Highly recommended to thriller/horror fans. It has been made into a very good Dutch(?) movie and an OK American one, that though different from the book are still worth seeking out. ( )
  clfisha | Oct 4, 2012 |
In this brief novella, Krabbe weaves two plots: the heartbreak and obsession of Rex who has lost his girlfriend to a random disappearance and the cold and calculating chapters dedicated to the man who knows the answer to the mystery. In the hands of many other authors, this could have become a bloated monstrosity, flipping needlessly back and forth with endless details about every aspect that could have easily become a 400 page book. Instead, we have a little over 100 pages that leave you with so little extraneous detail to float away on that you HAVE to face up to the ease with which men can turn to sheer evil and the obsession this evil leaves in its wake even after the primary victims are long-gone. This economy of words and plot is a rare gift and one that shouldn't be passed over in favor of bigger, shinier boxes. ( )
1 vote stephmo | May 22, 2010 |
A young Dutch couple named Rex and Saskia are on holiday in France, when they stop at a service station. Saskia goes inside to buy some cold drinks, and disappears, never to be seen again. Eight years later, Rex is still haunted by memories of Saskia, and the mystery behind her disappearance, and he launches a campaign in the French press, to see if he can unearth the truth. He then meets a man who can answer all of his questions - but how much does he want to learn the truth?

This was such an unusual book. It's very short (115 pages), but but very gripping. There is a plot device which is rare in psychological mysteries - halfway through the book, the reader finds out exactly what happened to Saskia, and who is responsible for her disappearance. This part of the story is told in detail, explaining about the life of the protaganist and what led him to the actions he committed. A genuinely creepy psychopath emerges from the pages - a man without emotion, who seems to plan his life in a logical and cold hearted way.

The writing is very spare, with no unnecessary words, and had a 'detached' quality to it. It is hard to feel much empathy for Rex - indeed he comes over as a somewhat unfeeling man, in his attitudes towards women especially - but the driving force behind the story is the reader's desire to learn Saskia's fate, and then the witnessing of Rex learning the same thing. Rex has been driven almost to the point of madness by his not knowing, but he also seems apathetic about his own life, with no real enjoyment in anything anymore.

A genuine mystery then, but one where the mystery is how far one man will go to have his questions answered, when the reader already knows the answers. Unusual and intriguing, it made me want to seek out more work by this author. ( )
1 vote Ruth72 | Apr 4, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Krabbé, Timprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garrett, SamTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winssen, Tonny vanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Smooth as spaceships, the cars full of tourists moved south down the long, wide turnpike.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Petrol gauge broken, anxiety and tempers flaring, young lovers Rex and Saskia, heading for the South of France, pull in at a service station to refuel. The moment they stop they make up and Rex buries two coins at the base of a fence post as a sign of their love. Saskia goes off to buy cold drinks and vanishes. Eight years later Rex is still haunted by her. Then one day he sees scrawled in the grime of a yellow car parked outside his window the words REX YOU'RE SO SWEET, and the obsession burns in his blood again."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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