Book

Tommy Wieringa

Caesarion

In search of a true identity

The seed of Tommy Wieringa’s new novel, the hefty Caesarion, was planted even before the resounding success of its predecessor, Joe Speedboat. Several years ago Wieringa read a report about the child conceived by Cicciolina with Jeff Koons.

The porn star and the anything-goes artist who fills the world’s museums with überkitsch had called their son Ludwig, after Ludwig of Bavaria, who plundered the state coffers to build insanely elaborate castles high in the mountains. A child as conceptual art.

Wieringa wanted to know what kind of person would emerge from such a twisted, crazy, mythical marriage. What would his motivations be? The novel is in some senses the answer to that question.

As a boy, Ludwig Unger – Wieringa’s hero is also called Ludwig – lives with his mother on the edge of the cliff, in King’s Ness, a small village on the east coast of England, in a woodworm-infested timber house. All goes well for several years, until the sea washes away so much of the coast that they have to abandon their home, which is lost to a storm. ‘The house toppled over its empty axis with astonishing lightness and slid groaning and screeching into the depths.’ Ludwig’s settled existence ends in that instant and he sets off in search of his true identity and a place that can offer him a sense of homecoming. He seeks a new equilibrium between himself and his mother and resolves to get to know his father, the destructive, megalomaniac artist Bodo Schultz, who left when he was small. ‘Only destruction,’ Schultz preaches, ‘has a permanent character.’ Ludwig travels the world in his quest, from Alexandria via England to Los Angeles, Vienna and Prague, places where Ludwig’s mother revives her old profession as a porn actress. When his mother becomes terminally ill he returns with her to her birthplace, a rural farmhouse in the Dutch province of Groningen.

The apparently infinite roadtrip ends in El Real, deep in the primeval forests of Panama, where Ludwig hopes to find his father. The scenes set there reflect the famous ending of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Wieringa plays the game of references with verve, but more important in Caesarion is Ludwig’s story, however dark and full of loss, loneliness, deception and destruction. Wieringa’s writing, with its driving pace, is compelling and the book sparkles with a delight in storytelling, making Caesarion impossible to resist.

A brilliant exploration of the uneasy transition from adolescence into adulthood.

The Independent

The only writers who have successfully pursued this Holy Grail of the complete novel in recent years (the list is perhaps not exhaustive) are Roberto Bolaño in his The Savage Detectives, W.G. Sebald in Austerlitz, J.M. Coetzee in Disgrace and Philip Roth in My Life as a Man. From now on, however, to that list must be added the name of Tommy Wieringa.

Le Figaro

A novel full of vitality, fine writing, and flawless psychological insights.

Vrij Nederland

The pleasure in storytelling leaps from the pages. trouw After a while, anyone who reads Wieringa will experience personally the rare, animated lightness of his central character and glide through the shoals of life with Caesarion’s aid. Fearless and nimble.

Knack

Tommy Wieringa

Tommy Wieringa (b. 1967) is the author of Alles over Tristan (Everything About Tristan, 2002) and the book which propelled his breakthrough to a wide audience, Joe Speedboat (2005, 300.000 copies sold). His travel stories were collected in Ik was nooit in Isfahaan (I Never Went to Isfahan, 2006).…

lees meer

Details

Caesarion (2009). Fiction, 366 pages.

Publisher

De Bezige Bij

Van Miereveldstraat 1
NL - 1071 DW Amsterdam
Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 305 98 10
Fax: +31 20 305 98 24

E-mail:
info@debezigebij.nl
Website:
http://www.debezigebij.nl

lees meer