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Scintillating novella echoing the Orpheus myth

Memoirs of a Leopard

Peter Verhelst

As a young man the narrator attends art school for a while. He is fascinated by his mysterious neighbour, who draws and sculpts. His parents do not want him to associate with her, because they are afraid she will throw him off balance, while he only wants to capture other people’s reality in drawing, and they are glad when one fine day they find she has moved.

An intoxicating, sensory gem of a novel
NBD Biblion

When the narrator, later in his life, works in a museum, he rediscovers his love by accident in an estate agent’s office. Then follows the account of his attempts to really see her, to become completely absorbed in her. In his attempts he oscillates between exuberance and asceticism - which in his view are related. As a painter the narrator wants to paint the ultimate portrait of his beloved in the most appropriate and striking way. He becomes so permeated by the beloved, so bewildered by fascination and jealousy, that their love can only end in tragedy.

Verhelst writes this story of an inspired passion in highly poetic, but also glowing, compelling and incisive prose, with a strongly physical wealth of images, a super-sensitive and sensual explicitness. This creates a troubled, but fascinating blurring of the boundaries between reality and imagination, as well as reality and memory.

Verhelst’s language is physical, erotic, full of illusions and enchantment. As brutal as it is tender.
De Standaard