Paperback review: The Foxes Come at Night, By Cees Nooteboom (Trs by Ina Rilke)

This is exactly what it is like to be alive

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The Independent Culture

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.

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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.