The Flemish writer Danie?l Robberechts (1937–1992) refused to identify his books as novels, stories, or essays, according them all equal status as, simply, writing. This liberation from genre gives his work, for all its apparent simplicity, an elusive, hypnotic quality, and no more so than in his debut, Arriving in Avignon, which records a young man’s first encounter with that labyrinthine city, and his likewise meandering relationship with a girl from his home town—and indeed virtually every woman he meets. Hesitant and cautious, unable quite to enter nor turn away, the young man seems to circle Avignon endlessly, in the process attempting to delay his inevitable descent into maturity and monogamy. What seems at first like a cross between a memoir and a guidebook comes in time to be the story of a young man’s dogged yet futile quest to know his own mind—unless it’s the ancient city of Avignon itself that is our real protagonist: a mystery that can be approached, but never wholly solved.
from Arriving in Avignon:
But—unfortunately?—the next arrival in Avignon remains unforgettable . . . he forgets where the two girls got on: his memory of a village on top of a barren hill, at the foot of which the bus stops, strikes him as unreliable. The girls are both so slender,their skin is so dark ...The charming,not even especially provocative way they chomp on their chewing gum and look at the passengers, everything about them makes ordinary people feel threatened, demolished, decayed. Sisters? Poor village girls on their way to a night out in the nearby town? . . . At that moment his wife has already told him about the man from the Walloon provincial town who, on his honeymoon in Paris, was waved at by a prostitute, asked his wife to wait for him, and never came back: what might not have happened if one of the girls had beckoned to him?
Series: Belgian Literature Series
For Ages: 22+ years old
Number Of Pages: 160
Published: 14th October 2010
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.3 x 14.8
Weight (kg): 0.21