From Publishers Weekly
Originally published in 1933, this classic Dutch comedy tells the tale of a determined but misguided marine shipping clerk enmeshed in a cumbersome cheese-centered farce. In early 1930s Amsterdam, a friend of a friend offers 50-year-old Frans Laarmans a position as an Edam cheese distributor. Laarmans isn't fond of cheese upon visiting a cheese shop, he observes, "The Roqueforts and Gorgonzolas lewdly flaunted their mould, and a squadron of Camemberts let their pus ooze out freely" but he is willing to snatch at any opportunity to escape his drab job at the shipping yards and enhance his social standing. Despite help from his wife, who is a bit sharper than her husband in business matters, Laarmans finds his new occupation exhausting. Before selling his first Edam, he wastes days searching for a typewriter to write up receipts for unmade sales and hours searching shops for a desk. In the meantime, 10,000 wheels of Edam are delivered. When he is informed that his supervisor is en route to meet him and settle accounts, Laarmans frantically struggles to make a sale. Doomed from the start, his final weak efforts are to no avail, and even his one success is ill timed. The book's poker-faced humor falls a bit flat in translation, though Laarmans's ordeal makes for nail-biting reading, and Elsschot's class commentary is astute. (Apr.)Forecast: The small trim size, bright jacket and low price point may make this an appealing gift buy, though Elsschot's particular brand of dry humor won't be to everyone's taste.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
""Willem Elsscbot (1882-1960), whose real name was Alfons de Ridder, was the Dutch Italo Svevo: an advertising executive whose rueful comic novels dramatized the plight of the 'little man' in a busy world with a rare combination of comedy and pathos. The protagonist here is Frans Laarmans, a nondescript shipping clerk whose promotion to European agent for his Antwerp firm's Edam cheese plunges him into a nightmare of obligation and bureaucratic complexity. As Laarmans frets and panics, hundreds of wheels of Edam sit, stink-ripening into an ingenious metaphor for the burdens imposed by their reluctant possessor's frenzied pursuit of status and security. A masterpiece...and one that's enormous fun to read."