fiction, translated from the Dutch by Adrienne Dixon, Hardback, 77 pages, 6.95, ISBN 978-0-87376-021-8
Reflections begins with the image of a rising/descending Ferris wheel. Within the pages a man reflects on his whole existence: childhood, adulthood, fantasies. There are no boundaries in place to separate these reflections.
Insingel describes his writing as a concrete literature by which he means texts (stories and novels as well as poetry) in which the language has its own reality apart from the reality which it describes. Reflections is a novel whose text and contents visualize its contents. The chapters become shorter towards the middle; from the middle onwards they lengthen. Approaching the middle the sentences begin to revolve, turn on themselves. Each chapter has its counterpart. The book is written not towards the end but towards the middle.
The little boy wonders: “Where is your grandfather? Are you only you when you are with him? When the boys are teasing you? When the girls are sorry for you?” The rug on which his grandfather is lying becomes a dark pond in which he is swimming. In the woods one point differs from another only because a car is seen in the background. The house glides by the ship or the ship by the house. Nothing exists except in motion.
Within conventional families, conventional neighborhoods, where the people seem most interchangeable, terrible events take place. A small boy is punished, humiliated, his dog dies after drinking paint, his grandfather is stricken, the rotting corpse of a woman is found seated in a car. Events are seen as the man sees them himself: transformed, no longer in ordered time, these events are mixed with his dreams and nightmares.
“Difficult? I am as understandable as Mondrian,” Insingel stated in an interview with Lidy van Marissing, “In my hands the text means what it says. My texts are never born from theorizing. The only thing is this: I abstract the text down to the very bone. I find a skeleton much more moving than a body, certainly more moving than a clothed body.”
Because of the perfect interconnection between form and content, Reflections is one of the most challenging and interesting works of modern fiction.
International Fiction Review
“…he stubs out his cigarette in the ashtray, you put your right hand on your left, the right little finger lies on the left thumb, the right ring finger lies on the left index finger, the middle fingers lie on each other, the right index finger lies on the left ring finger, the right thumb lies on the left little finger, the conversation which you keep going between you and him is a conversation with the lady beside him is talking with the lady beside you is talking with him while he talks with you, he smiles…”
Mark Insingel was born in Antwerp in 1935. His father was a house painter, his grandfather, who lived with his family, was a painter. After completing his primary schooling, he studied drama for a number of years before he began writing concrete poetry and fiction. Insingel won distinction as a concrete poet by participating in many international expositions, and in 1970 Insingel won the Prijs van de Vlaamse Gids for his book Perpetuum Mobile. Insingel describes his writing as a concrete literature by which he means his texts (stories and novels as well as poetry) in which the language has its own reality apart from the reality it describes.