11 May 2012

Surreal fiction

René Magritte, the Belgian surrealist painter, has entertained me for years. I always said he was my favorite Belgian surrealist. (Salvador Dalí is my favorite Spanish surrealist.)

Other surrealists have entertained me as well. Bertolt Brecht would probably have denied it, but he was a surrealist in my mind.

And what's all this early 20th century art history about?

In my vague memories of past reading, I recall being entertained by a mystery about a couple of Amsterdam detectives. The memory might even be real. It might be surreal.

In any case when I found Janwillem van de Wetering's mystery The Mind-Murders on the library shelf, I picked it up in hopes of being entertained once again. 

Well, this mystery is indeed about two Amsterdam detectives, Henk Grijpstra and Rinus de Gier. However, this novel seems to be at attempt at comedy and surrealism. It begins when Adjutant Grijpstra orders his sergeant de Gier to take off his clothes and jump into the unhealthy water of one of Amsterdam's canals and rescue a man who is beating off another rescuer with a crutch. It goes downhill from there.

That scene is comedic, but not funny. I didn't find anything else funny in the half of the book I read. Most of what I read was suffused with surrealism. The actions of the main characters and their thinking seems based in some alternative universe. They spent an inordinate amount of time in a bistro that appears normal, but is anything but.

Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. I know there are days when the Marx Brothers are hilarious and other days when they are as dumb as the Three Stooges.

But maybe this book is just as dumb as the Three Stooges.

Do you remember reading The Mind-Murders? Or something else by van de Wetering? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you thought. Or you could tell us who your favorite surrealist is. Or whether the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges are ever funny to you.

No comments: