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Everyone can piss on the floor, be a hero, shit on the ceiling (or read Cremer)

Posted to What Are You Reading?

How about trying out some foreign beats...
Here's the dutch answer to Jack Kerouac. (source:

First published in the roaring sixties, I, Jan Cremer owed its phenomenal success as much to its bawdy language and barnstorming picaresque narrative as to its new, inexpensive paperback format and the provocative cover photograph featuring the youthful author astride his gleaming Harley Davidson in a black leather jacket and boots, a macho period icon if ever there was one.

‘All events and persons in this book are entirely a product of my imagination,’ Jan Cremer declares in the blurb, and there is indeed a great deal of imagination in what otherwise purports to be the literary autobiography of the writer and artist Jan Cremer, in many respects the Dutch answer to Jack Kerouac. Born in 1940, Cremer grew up moving in and out of schools, correctional institutions, jails, a succession of dead-end jobs, the Dutch navy, the Dutch marines and the French Foreign Legion in Algeria. At the age of thirteen he has his first real sexual encounter with the neighbour’s wife Betty, and over the years she is followed by countless other girlfriends, lovers, fiancées, mistresses, chicks, birds, broads, art students, models, poets, dancers, prostitutes and further ‘pieces of tail’. Like his fellow writers Jan Wolkers and Xaviera (‘The Happy Hooker’) Hollander, Cremer rings in the new sexual liberties of the 1960s, breaking free of the moral values and bourgeois respectability of traditional Dutch society.

When he is fourteen he runs away to Paris and the French Rivièra. He finds himself down and out in Marseille, works as a cowboy in the Camargue and as a bullfighter in Spain, and tumbles from one adventure into another. Despite the excitement there is also plenty of casual violence in the tall stories of this angry young Dutchman, who makes ends meet by pimping, gambling and fighting in the bars and brothels of The Hague’s red light district.

Running through this vivid collage of adventure, drugs, violence, alcohol and breathless sex with beautiful women is the story of how Jan Cremer develops into an irreverent and rebellious artist intent on painting life in the raw. No art academy wants him, and he in return reviles the stuck-up pedants he meets in the world of art and culture. He recalls how in 1957 he invented Peinture Barbarisme and shocked the nation by asking in a newspaper interview: ‘Rembrandt? Who’s he? I don’t know anything about sports.’ The novel ends in Ibiza, that great fantasy island of the sixties, where his paintings sell like hot cakes and he fulfuls his ambition, that of being worshipped as the James Dean of the art world.

As a matter of fact, I never thought of myself as a difficult boy. Things were always made difficult for me — because I came from the slums, because for years I spoke with a foreign accent, because I didn’t feel at home in ‘rich men’s schools’, and, of course, because I used to shit on everything: on Religion, Hope and Love. School bored the pants off me, so I purposely learned nothing. All that I know I taught myself, or learned from experience. And why not ? Why should I have listened to those old pricks carrying on about long division or the past perfect tense. To hell with all that! (p. 85, tr. R.E. Wyngaards and Alexander Trocchi)