"Read Cees Nooteboom," a German acquaintance recommended. "You'll remember his RITUALS." Nooteboom is a Dutch poet and novelist. Set in Amsterdam during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, his sparse, 145-page novel opens with "the appalling news" of President Kennedy's assasination (p. 17), and his protagonist, Inni Wintrop's attempted suicide after his wife, Zita, leaves him for an Italian. The novel then follows Inni as he wanders the streets of Amsterdam alone, looking for meaning in a "wonderful, empty universe" (p. 113). Along the way, he encounters Arnold Taads and his estranged son, Philip, by chance. All three characters have lost their faith in God, and attempt to create their own meaning in life through rituals. Arnold Taads is rigidly tied to time. "Time," Inni learns, "was the father of all things in Arnold Taad's life" (p. 46). Philip Taads, on the other hand, attempts to escape time through Zen-like rituals. And as for Inni, "women had become his religion, the center, the essence of everything, the great cartwheel on which the world turned" (p. 60). Intelligent and poetic, RITUALS is ultimately a parable about the importance of learning to ride the inconsistent waves of life in a universe devoid of God.