De eeuwige jachtvelden
Nanne Tepper’s first novel received reviews in which he was acclaimed as a daring author who inventively showed which great artists had influenced him: Nabokov, Salinger, Kerouac, Faulkner, Zappa, Mahler. The author wasn’t flattered. ‘References like that are just a joke,’ he explained in an interview soon after. ‘They’re just fooling around. They’re completely irrelevant to the book’s purpose.’ This reaction was yet more proof that Dutch literature had gained a self-assured writer. Even the comment in the interview could have been meant as a joke. The only thing that’s sure is that Tepper can’t be pinned down.
The chapter divisions of De eeuwige jachtvelden reflect the sections of Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony, Titan. Like Mahler, Tepper enjoys mixing the crude and the divine. It is possible to read the novel’s four parts as a stylistic sampler. Two narrative sections are followed by an epistolary section, and the final part (Stürmisch bewegt) is a rhythmic masterpiece in the form of an internal monologue in Groningen dialect.
The career test which main character Victor Prins is given in his third year of high school shows that he is suited to become a director, composer or writer. In 1990, aged twenty-nine, he arrives in Paris to write a book about Jack Kerouac. ‘All he possessed was his past, a Dutch writer’s greatest treasure. While not wanting to repudiate it, he aspired to the grandeur of loss.’ What follows is much more than picturesque memories of a childhood in the fictional East Groningen village of Oude Huizen. The security and oppressiveness of his childhood, set against the uncertainty of an unavoidable future, is symbolised by the incestuous love between Victor and his younger sister Lisa. Referring to her alcoholic daughter and her similarly predisposed son, his mother writes: ‘The people of Groningen are supposed to be down to earth. What a misconception.’ Salinger meets Nabokov in the unlikely setting of Oude Huizen. An ironic romantic, Nanne Tepper boldly pulls out all the stops and shows his formidable range.