A very few writers have the gift of being able to convey exactly what it is like to be a mortal human being living on this planet.
Cees Nooteboom is one of those few. The eight stories here are poignant, wistful, and sometimes bitingly funny studies of memory, longing, regret, and a wry acceptance that this is what being alive is like. In “Late September”, a 79-year-old English expatriate conducts an affair with a 63-year-old Spanish waiter.
In “Paula”, a man addresses a photo of his one-time love, propped against a rain-spattered window; in “Paula II”, unheard, her ghost replies. Literary short stories can be hard work, but these are a joy to read.