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Cool as a cucumber, Dutchman Kees Popinga wonders around Paris with plenty of cash Drinking, smoking, playing chess, entertaining women, seemingly without a care in the world, sounds great Oh, I forgot to mention the police are on his tail, as he is wanted for being the Amsterdam sex maniac , Kess himself sees this tag as a bit of an insult, that makes him mad which he clearly is believing he is nothing of the sort Although he is a killer, you wouldn t think it.Leaving his family behind a Cool as a cucumber, Dutchman Kees Popinga wonders around Paris with plenty of cash Drinking, smoking, playing chess, entertaining women, seemingly without a care in the world, sounds great Oh, I forgot to mention the police are on his tail, as he is wanted for being the Amsterdam sex maniac , Kess himself sees this tag as a bit of an insult, that makes him mad which he clearly is believing he is nothing of the sort Although he is a killer, you wouldn t think it.Leaving his family behind after the company he works for goes down the pan, he heads from the Netherlands to France completely at random and fueled by dark impulses, but always remaining calm and relaxed, unaware of being dragged ever lower due to his resilience and absolute confidence in his ability to outwit the French police, which he is good at for a time, however, when his downward spiral is set in motion from the moment he wakes up earlier in the story, there is no going back.The psychological portrait of a criminal on the run and his descent into insanity is the core of the novel Next time an overconfident criminal starts sending letters to the press, I will be thinking of Popinga It was Like being informed of the mind games behind the press releases and psychological profiling from today, Police methods haven t really changed much since 1938 after this was was published The character of Popinga is a bizarre spectacle and was riveting spending time in his company, chilling yes, but he never seemed threatening or reckless, and carried on with his new lease of life trying to be as normal as possible, while other people woven into the novel felt rather flat, and seemed to welcome unwanted trouble Simenon generally devoted only about a week and a half to writing a novel in between getting his leg over with one of 10,000 girlfriends a practice that, again, was good for his bank account and bad for his reputation A solid enough read but needSimenon to convince me he really was the real deal Kees Popinga, the main character ofThe man who watched the trains go by,is an exemplary husband and caring father of two teenage children When we meet him for the first time he could serve as a shining example of a man He avoids bars like the plague, he opposes bravely to physical desires and does it so successfully that he never had gone to a public house He works in the firm of Julius de Coster where he earns quite a good money that allows him to look after his family Mr Popinga lives Kees Popinga, the main character ofThe man who watched the trains go by,is an exemplary husband and caring father of two teenage children When we meet him for the first time he could serve as a shining example of a man He avoids bars like the plague, he opposes bravely to physical desires and does it so successfully that he never had gone to a public house He works in the firm of Julius de Coster where he earns quite a good money that allows him to look after his family Mr Popinga lives in a large villa and is a member of the chess club which accumulates local social scene He spends his evenings in the warmth of hearth and home, smoking cigars and leading trivial conversations with Mrs Popinga It seems that nothing is able to disturb that idyllic if slightly dull picture.Meanwhile, one cold winter evening unexpectedly but radically changes life of our protagonist, who due to some words of his employer breaks up with his current life, commits a crime and by the night train goes to Paris There we can accompany him in his oneiric wanderings through the streets of the city, where he tries to hide from the police.Georges Simenon creates a study of a man who brought to the brink decides to cross the line Popinga under the influence of a single impulse becomes the individual not associated with anyone or anything, with no idea, object, place, man He has nothing to offer in the role he had played the whole life, model husband and daddy The former Mr Popinga had just run out of steam.He is like an empty vessel from which previous life just drained and now Mr Popinga has to pour it in something other to shape himself anew However, it turns out that by freeing himself from the chains of one scheme, he easily falls into the next one From a decent though dull citizen and respected man, tormented by everyday routine becomes a pervert from Amsterdam, hunted by the entire French police Following Popinga s case we can see that everyone even seemingly the most ordinary and colorless man is the epitome of a mystery And that apparently trivial event can activate, silently indwelling in our souls, forces This was diverting, though not my favorite of the six or so Simenons I have read so far, all on the New York Review Books imprint Kees Popinga, a buttoned down manager of a ships chandlery in Holland, goes on a bit of a rampage after his boss tells him that he has run the business into the ground This is the same business, the watchword for rectitude and probity in the little port town in which it operates, into which Kees has invested every cent of his savings Kees subsequently inadvertentl This was diverting, though not my favorite of the six or so Simenons I have read so far, all on the New York Review Books imprint Kees Popinga, a buttoned down manager of a ships chandlery in Holland, goes on a bit of a rampage after his boss tells him that he has run the business into the ground This is the same business, the watchword for rectitude and probity in the little port town in which it operates, into which Kees has invested every cent of his savings Kees subsequently inadvertently kills a hooker by the name of Pamela whom he has lusted after for years when, bereft of his illusions, she laughs at him Then he goes to Paris and becomes a subject for the tabloids Sex Fiend as he remains at large for several weeks However, once the newspapers lose interest and relegate his story to inner pages, he starts to write letters to the editor in which he pathetically tries to keep the thrill alive his ostensible motive being to explain himself since they have him all wrong The book is troubled early on, in my view, by some hardboiled sounding dialog, generally something the titles I ve read are free of I felt it was very good but lacking in action, and by contrast, too heavy on the ruminations of its protagonist, mostly rendered as free indirect speech My favorite NYRB Simenons so far have been Dirty Snow and The Strangers in the House The latter being, in my opinion, dazzling on a sentence by sentence basis Recommended with reservations Kees Popinga is a chief clerk for a shipping company Wife and two kids A heavily mortgaged home A solid Dutch burgher He takes a walk one night and spies his boss drunk in a dive bar The boss confesses massive fraud and explains that Popinga s cushy life will soon be unraveling.I ve read Simenon before Red Lights and been unimpressed But this one grabbed me when Popinga returned home from his impromptu meeting with his boss and his wife notices something is wrong with himYou re whiteKees Popinga is a chief clerk for a shipping company Wife and two kids A heavily mortgaged home A solid Dutch burgher He takes a walk one night and spies his boss drunk in a dive bar The boss confesses massive fraud and explains that Popinga s cushy life will soon be unraveling.I ve read Simenon before Red Lights and been unimpressed But this one grabbed me when Popinga returned home from his impromptu meeting with his boss and his wife notices something is wrong with himYou re white as a sheet You didn t have any problems with Ocean III , did you Me Not at all Aren t you going to tell me what s wrong Okay, I ll tell you What s wrong is, I want you to leave me the fuck alone Popinga s life changes, dramatically from that demarcating conversation What follows though is not just a man leaves wife and goes on adventure to find himself yarn A darkness reveals itself soon after Popinga steps on a train A murder follows And we are not totally revolted He says I m not crazy I m, not a sex fiend I just decided, at the age of forty, to live as I please, without bothering about the law or convention.No, we are not totally revolted [ FREE EPUB ] ⚖ L'uomo che guardava passare i treni ☪ Personaggio paradigmatico dell universo simenoniano, Popinga si insinua nella mente del lettore con una stupefacente familiarit E come una carta da parati che abbiamo visto per anni e improvvisamente si metta a parlare Dal momento in cui, un giorno, Popinga esce di casa e, chiudendo la porta, esce anche da se stesso, incontriamo di tutto e non riusciamo ad evitare di vederlo con i suoi occhi Il delitto, il terrore, la fantasticheria, la solitudine, la lucidit , la puntigliosit sono nuovi pezzi su una vecchia scacchiera, e con il loro aiuto Popinga tenta disperatamente di eludere lo scacco matto Alla fine, la sua vita, di cui ormai sappiamo tutto, sar passata davanti ai nostri occhi, e ai suoi, come uno di quei misteriosi treni che amava guardare nella notte Very good book The first chapter was excellent, drawing the reader in immediately, making the reader aware that something big was going to happen in the future for Kees Popinga At that moment the die was cast From now on, every second hadto it than all of the seconds of his past put together, and each of his acts has as much importance as those of any of the public men whose most trivial doings are featured by the Press So the reader is informed by Simenon in the first chapter of who K Very good book The first chapter was excellent, drawing the reader in immediately, making the reader aware that something big was going to happen in the future for Kees Popinga At that moment the die was cast From now on, every second hadto it than all of the seconds of his past put together, and each of his acts has as much importance as those of any of the public men whose most trivial doings are featured by the Press So the reader is informed by Simenon in the first chapter of who Kees Popinga is, the comfortable life he had at that time, and then what happened on a particular night The way he reacts to it is most interesting, and forms the rest of the novel Before he goes to sleep that night, he is one man and after he wakes up the next morning he is transformed into a different man From that day forward, he views his wife and his daughter and son with contempt apparently deep down he has harbored these feelings for some time but his humdrum, busy yet comfortable life has prevented them from emerging to the forefront of this mind He engages in an act which again as a newcomer to Simenon s oeuvre was surprising to me From now on as I continue to poke into Simenon s works, and I most decidedly will, perhaps I will be less and less surprised For the most part the book held my attention I found it difficult to put down and so, since today was a Sunday, I attended to a few humdrum events in my life but read it in the space of several hours I found the character of Kees Popinga to not be necessarily chilling but certainly a bit off his rocker His intelligence and how he carries himself in all sorts of different situations manages to keep himself doing reasonably well, all things considered given that the French and Dutch police are searching for him Simenon at least in this book writes with dark humor I think I might have chuckled at one point I did not perceive that style of dark humor with the three other books I have read by him, The Iron Staircase , The Glass Cage , and The Snow was Dirty Dirty Snow One thing that occurred repeatedly throughout the book was that he was reading descriptions of his actions or his personality in newspapers as paranoiac What I thought was dark humor is that he told us, the readers, that he wished he knew what paranoiac meant Some sentences that struck me as I read It was Christmas Eve He had got over his sentimental mood He no longer had any wish to hear the carol belched from the wireless radio He writes in to a newspaper while he is on the lam, describing how he feels about family and what daughter wouldn t want to be described this way to the general public by her loving father There is a legend that my daughter has brains because she speaks so seldom but I know the true reason, which is that she has nothing to say Also she is a snob Regarding the title of his book, there are several references to trains and it seems to me he has had feelings when he hears the whistle of a train or sees the night train rushing by that he longs to be on that train escaping from his life and living some other life That feeling about trains, for instance Of course he had long outgrown the boyish glamour of the steam engine Yet there was something that had an appeal for him in trains, especially in night trains, which always put vague, queerly improper notions into his head though he would have been hard put to define them Also, he had an impression that those who leave by night trains leave for ever What wonder if he had a curious thrill whenever he heard the whistle of a passing train, three hundred yards from his house He takes a dim view of his fellow inhabitants of Holland Thehe examined the man beside him, thena ve he found him, even naiver than a Dutchman And near the end of the book So this was the psychiatrist who d classified him as a paranoiac , whatever that meant While discussing Black Swan with friends the other day, I realized this novel has a similarity or two with Darren Aronofsky movies Remember those moviesRequiem for a Dream, Pi, The Wrestler, Black Swanwhere we have one orcharacters going on with their lives when somehow things begin spiraling out of control And how The Man Who Watched Trains Go By has a similar premise, except the transition in the protagonist s life is relativelysudden He steps around a corner from where While discussing Black Swan with friends the other day, I realized this novel has a similarity or two with Darren Aronofsky movies Remember those moviesRequiem for a Dream, Pi, The Wrestler, Black Swanwhere we have one orcharacters going on with their lives when somehow things begin spiraling out of control And how The Man Who Watched Trains Go By has a similar premise, except the transition in the protagonist s life is relativelysudden He steps around a corner from where there is no turning back.Kees Popinga, the protagonist, has always done what is expected of him by the society, his family and his employer He has built a stable and seemingly content life for himself However, while trying too hard to be perfect, he has lost himself somewhere, forgotten who he really was and how he really wishes to live He is tired and bored of being himself He is bogged down by the monotony of his life, though he doesn t yet realize as much One fateful night, his predictable life takes an unexpected turn and Popinga breaks down He is now no longer the man who always used to watch trains go by while staying put, but hops on a train himself to start afresh and live on his own terms And the reader accompanies him on his existential journey.Simenon writes well He never goes too deep into Popinga s psychology, but lets us understand his psyche by telling a lot of the story from Popinga s point of view Popinga gets himself into a cat and mouse game with the police He goes about playing this game objectively, thinking and planning out every move he makes While Popinga takes pride in being so clear headed and smart, the reader can only feel sorry for the poor fellow s foolishness Whatever you feel about his actions, you can t help feeling pity for him You want to grab him by the shoulders and shake some sense into his head Like those times when you find yourself yelling at someone on your TV screen.Simenon also sprinkles the plot with suspense which adds another interesting dimension to the story.There are sure to be many Popingas in the world around us who are wearied of their stressful lives and wish to breathe free Those who leave by night trains leave for ever Kees Popinga from The Man Who Watched The Trains Go ByKees Popinga is a dull man who lives in a well ordered existence, where everything including his wife is admirably above board,one might have said of her..that she was the best make of Dutch wifehis house thebest plannedhis neighborhood in thehealthiest and most attractive part in GroningenHe is Simenon s psychologically marginal archetypea middle aged man, after years Those who leave by night trains leave for ever Kees Popinga from The Man Who Watched The Trains Go ByKees Popinga is a dull man who lives in a well ordered existence, where everything including his wife is admirably above board,one might have said of her..that she was the best make of Dutch wifehis house thebest plannedhis neighborhood in thehealthiest and most attractive part in GroningenHe is Simenon s psychologically marginal archetypea middle aged man, after years of conformity to the standards of society, who flees his milieuPopinga s habit of watching night trains affords him a glimpse of another life, of adventures which he often only dream about a yearning for escapeThere was something that had an appeal for him in trains, especially in night trains, which always put queer, vaguely improper notions into his head though he would have been hard put to it to define them Also he had an impression that those who leave by night trains leave for ever an impression heightened the previous night by his glimpse of those Italians piled into their carriage like emigrants After his employer, Julius de Coster, confesses to have defrauded his firm to the level of immediate liquidation, Popinga realizes that, not only will he lose his job, but he ll be penniless, for he had invested all his savings in the firm De Coster s deception and impertinent, harsh put downs spur Popinga to seek a way out from facing responsibility At the age of 40, he chooses to do as he pleases no restraints, no laws or rigid conventions A chance to escape from the routine of life is grabbed, freeing himself from the nets of domesticity and duty, fleeing the judgments, the daily desultory remarks and opinions fromcocksured ignoramuses who think they know everythingHe enters a new, sinister world, flexing for the first time, a wiliness that is uncharacteristic yet seems natural to him His adventures lead him to felonious encounters in the world of prostitutes, pimps, auto thieves, murder and madness Now an elusive criminal, he feels a sense of pride and a thrill at being called the Thug of Amsterdam , enjoying his anonymous movements amongst the police, taunting and teasing the cocksure Superintendent in a suspenseful, psychological game of checkmate me if you can On a semiconscious level, he seems to want to prove that he is cleverer orresourceful than them all.Popinga s need for escape, his desire to do as he pleases, to exercise his free will and the resulting destructive actions eventually take their toll Guilt ridden, he looses control, begins to fall apart and progressively descends into insanity at a stealthily subtle pace that showcases the brilliance of this author.When finally in the asylum, Popinga decides to write the Truth about the Kees Popinga Case, to convince himself that his experiences were not insignificant, he produces only blank pages The truth that evades him is that, in reality, he achieved nothing by his running away The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By is part of Simenon s extensive romans durs psychological noire oeuvre hard novels that consistently portray an estranged, modern antihero always fleeing, who lacks lucidity and is moved by forces he s too weak to control a man who lacks positive values and ambitions The violent actions of his characters aretragic consequences of life, that for many men and women, are unendurableFor Kees Popinga, the inability to take responsibility, his lack of ambition and the monotonous, drudgery of the life he led proved his inevitable downfall.I ve read a few of Simenon s works Act of Passion, The Train, The Strangers in the House, Pietr the Latvian have enjoyed the psychological insight and narrative style of these novels, and I m sure I ll be busy for years to come feasting on them all That s my ambition Lucille F Becker, Georges Simenon New York, Twayne, 1999 as to Simenon s writing Method On a large yellow envelope, he would over the course of a week or two, write the names of his characters and whatever else he knew about their lives and backgrounds their ages, where they had gone to school, their parents professions The envelope might additionally contain street maps of the novel s setting, although it would never say a word about the book s eventual plot Once he was satisfied with these notes, he would enter the hermitage and knock of the b as to Simenon s writing Method On a large yellow envelope, he would over the course of a week or two, write the names of his characters and whatever else he knew about their lives and backgrounds their ages, where they had gone to school, their parents professions The envelope might additionally contain street maps of the novel s setting, although it would never say a word about the book s eventual plot Once he was satisfied with these notes, he would enter the hermitage and knock of the book at the rate of a chapter every morning, optimally in a week or ten days After finishing he would be drained, battered by violent psychological storms and concurrent physical symptoms It was a bit as if he had given birth It should be noted that he wrote books this way even when he was ostensibly on vacationfrom the introduction by Luc Sante This is the first Simenon novel I ve read I think I ve read five or six where I didn t sympathize with the protagonist Kees Popinga You don t like him, he appalls you, but you re also increasingly amused by him, by his warped sense of society and his inflated sense of self His sickness is this As to Popinga, he had no ties not to a person, or an ideal, or anything at all And he could prove it too 85.and in his own words For forty years I ve been bored For forty years I looked at life like a poor boy with his nose glued to the pastry shop window, watching other people eat cake.Now I know that the cake belongs to the people who are willing to take it 132.You watch Popinga try to steal his cake and eat it tooand make a mess of things Luc Sante writes that you close the book and you realize that all along that you ve been reading a comedy I agree though I think the comic aspect makes itself apparent sooner Different from the other Simenons I ve read but just as good Another classic human study by Simenon The theme has been used before in literature, but I never get tired of it A person who wants to forget their current life and become another identity or break out of their mode of living And yeah bad things happen But what simportant bad things are happening in your old life The strict order of doing things, working at the same company year after year well, you are going to break down For instance, me trying to write five book reviews a day Another classic human study by Simenon The theme has been used before in literature, but I never get tired of it A person who wants to forget their current life and become another identity or break out of their mode of living And yeah bad things happen But what simportant bad things are happening in your old life The strict order of doing things, working at the same company year after year well, you are going to break down For instance, me trying to write five book reviews a day for Goodreads I am going to crack you know But back to this novel, it s excellent Even the title is great From watching the train to actually get on the train can change things radically