, July 10, 2016
(view all comments by JFlaming)
Please don't make the mistake of picking up Belgian/Flemish author Bob Van Laerhoven's "Dangerous Obsessions" for easy pleasure. If you can finish the short story collection without a sour, sick ache in your heart, you are of tougher stuff than this reader. Nevertheless, the slim volume (75 ages, Anaphora Literary Press), is worth the read in its exploration of how love - or at least the desire for physical or emotional connection corrupted sometimes almost beyond recognition - crops up in even the most inhuman of situations.
Each story in this slim 75-page collection hurtles to a resolution in compact, digestable language. While the settings may feel familiar (a concentration camp, war-torn Africa, the French Foreign Legion, a beach town in South America), the author's endings always surprise. In some cases, a kind of reconciliation may occur, but never one without brutal scars or deep regrets. More often, revenge, satisfying and otherwise, is a dish served very, very cold.
Though translated to English in all cases except two, only in a few places will the writer's sensibilities feel foreign to a US audience. A use of a particularly offensive word to American ears may grate at one point and cultural references to Black Pete, for example, may send some to the online search engine of choice.