Brainfood: A Night Between Books

Yesterday I felt like it was time for some brain food. In one of my previous posts, I have told you about my favourite coffee place in Leuven which is no more. It was a book cafe: a cafe that happens to have a book shop, De Dry Coppen. It has been replaced by a book shop that happens to have a cafe: BarBoek. Sligthly different atmosphere, but still a wonderful place to relax. Books everywhere, a few corners with big and small couches, and the same delicious coffee as in the last place.

Yesterday night, they had their opening event. They invited a writer to come talk about her new book: Isabelle Rosaert’s Dat is wat ik bemin. So as you do, I invited my mom for a date to the new book cafe.

The night had a high level of living room feeling to it. A very crowded living room, but still. The writer had invited a lot of her family and friends to support her, and so did the Barboek team. So everyone sort of knew someone, and everyone had a very positive and open mindset. The set-up was totally living room as well. A homely feeling of different couches, and a single lamp on the ceiling that everyone kept running into. And a nice cuppa.

The event was well thought out. The journalist interviewing the author was also a friend of the author, which made it a very easy going and personal interview. In between the questions, someone read some excerpts from the book, accompanied by some live music. I have to be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of the live music. I’ll call it “Experimental Double Bass”. The girl was holding the double bass in such an awkward way, it was hard to take her seriously. She had an amplifier and some pedals, so she could record her own playing to play it back to us. That way, she was her own musical accompaniment. I was quite impressed at first, taking an either jazz or classical instrument to a digital level, but I didn’t like what she did with it. She clearly wanted to create a different sound, contemporary stuff, alternative. But the things she did to her double bass simply did not go well on the ear. Or at least not on my ear. It is such a beautiful instrument, with its deep warm tones. The way she played it, it eeped and it creeped. At first I thought she wasn’t very good. Then it started dawning on me it was simply her style. As for the excerpts, they were a bit on the long side. Although I must admit, they suited the interview very well. Afterwards, we were served some wine and sandwiches to accompany the interesting discussion that started brewing right after the interview had finished.

In any case, the night definitely sold the book to me. Usually I am not a big fan of contemporary Dutch literature. Often, there is this idea behind it, “I have to shock my reader”. The stories and language use are vulgar and very much out there, the topics taboo. I can’t say it’s not good writing. It’s just not my thing. What is my thing? Post-colonial literature, like Khaled Hosseini, Salman Rushdie, or for Dutch Kader Abdollah. Or magical realism, like Isabel Allende or the king of magical realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Now, guess which writer has had a massive influence on Rossaert?! Gabriel Garcia Marquez! She even experimented a little bit with the magical realism herself! So to say the least, I am intrigued! I might just actually read this book. Another thing for on the christmas wish list I say!