Beyond Sleep
Willem Frederik Hermans
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Buy *Beyond Sleep* by Willem Frederik Hermans online

Beyond Sleep
Willem Frederik Hermans
336 pages
May 2007
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Before the trip, Alfred Issendorf never tested how much weight he could carry in his rucksack. It didn't matter, because they'd have to divide up the food and shared equipment, so his rucksack would be heavier than he packed anyway. Just how much weight could he carry?

His hiking boots are a poor choice for crossing rivers; he should have waders like Professor Nummedal's students, the Norwegian expedition he's joined. One of the students tells Alfred that Nummedal thinks Alfred's thesis advisor in the Netherlands, Professor Sibbelee, is a laughingstock and that Sibbelee's theory of meteors forming the craters up North is a joke. Alfred is out to prove these are meteor craters, and he is looking for them without the aerial photographs he failed to procure at the outset of his trip. Why did he not get them before he set out? Why did he not have the photos sent to him before he left home? How will he be able to work without these photographs? Will he recognize craters at ground level?

Why does he think his sister's girlfriend, whom he met once for ten minutes, will marry him? He imagines they will get engaged on his graduation day.

There is lot of self-flagellation trying to keep the mosquitoes at bay. The tent leaks.

"Compass lost. Camera broken. Bleeding and bruised, feverish from lack of sleep. My mind's a blank. I don't even know what the time is."
And the irony, the cruel irony, of the ending just doesn't matter anymore.

Rememiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's style, Beyond Sleep is the first of Hermansí work to be translated into English. It is regrettable that it didn't happen until after his death.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Midge Bork, 2007

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