The Evenings: a Winter’s Tale
by Gerard Reve
translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett
After the emotional onslaught that was A Little Life, a comedy first published in the 1940s seemed like the perfect next read. But perhaps this was exactly the wrong choice at that moment, because I did not enjoy this.
Set in Amsterdam in the last few weeks of the year (presumably 1947, when it was written) this is the story of Frits van Egters, a young office worker living with his parents, trying to stave off the boredom of the long winter evenings. He is irritable and melancholic, prone to dark, violent thoughts and fantasies.
Frits has plenty of friends to call on the time of, which is perhaps surprising considering how rudely he speaks to them, verging on bullying at times. But he is also something of an entertainer, talking a lot, telling tall tales, passing on gossip and encouraging others to do the same. He drinks, smokes, listens to music, goes to the cinema, but is always dissatisfied.