fighting the lack of good ideas

netherland by joseph o’neill

I finished reading Netherland by Joseph O’Neill Tuesday.

It’s a “novel” in the same sense that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Where the Heart Is are novels – it’s a story. The story unfolds in a rambling fashion as a the memoirs of Hans van den Broek.

It’s a story of one man’s life in New York, his wife, his son, and their ultimate return to London taking place over several years after the attacks on the World Trade Center. It’s a story of lost purpose, betrayal, uncaringness, and, ultimately, the refound and rekindled love Hans has for his wife Rachel.

Mostly told as a flashback from finding out that his friend (in loose airquotes) Chuck Ramkisson has been found dead, Hans’ story is one that I’m sure far too many people can relate to – not because of the intricacies of cricket, or the exoticity of various locales visited and mentioned, nor due to the propensity of the author to use words most of us haven’t thought about since we took the SATs. But it’s simply the story of a man who has lost his way, nearly lost his family, and found himself again through focusing on an artifact of his childhood self: cricket.

I don’t know if I recommend this book or not – it’s not a genre I typically read or like, but I didn’t not enjoy it.