Book Talk: HEX, Chapter 12

Posted January 12, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments


Bilingual read-through of HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

List of Prominent Characters

So, the NL and EN tags are the ones actually used in the story. If it’s listed for both then it’s a shorthand I’m using to note which of the characters is which. Where no name for ‘both’ is included I haven’t used a name for both. (Expect this list to get updated per chapter!)

  • Beek (NL), Black Spring/Black Rock (EN), Black Beek (both)
  • Stefan (NL), Steve (EN), Ste (both)
  • Katherina (NL), Katherine (EN), Kat (both), aka Wylerheks (NL), Black Rock Witch (EN) Wyler Witch (both)
  • Jolanda (NL), Jocelyn (EN), Jo (both)
  • Timo (NL), Tyler (EN), Tiy (both)
  • Oma (NL), Gramma (EN), Granny (both)
  • Max (NL), Matt (EN), Maxmatt (both)
  • Robert Grim (NL, EN)
  • Claire Hamer (NL), Claire Hammer (EN)
  • Jens van der Heijden (NL), Warren Castillo (EN), Jenren (both)
  • Jasmine Aerendonck (NL), Bammy Delarosa (EN), Jasmy (both)
  • The Aerandoncks/The Delarosas, Aerenrosa (both)
  • Martijn Winkel (NL), Marty Keller (EN),Winler (both)
  • Loes Krijgsman (NL), Lucy Everett (EN), Loucy (both)
  • Pieter van Meerten (NL), Pete VanderMeer (EN), Pete van Meer (both)
  • Marieke (NL), Mary (EN), Marie (both)
  • Laurens (NL), Lawrence (EN), Lau (both)
  • Jelmer Holst (NL), Jaydon Holst (EN), Jaymer (both)
  • Mirna (NL), Sue (EN)
  • Burak Sayers (NL), Burak Şayers (EN)
  • Bert Aerendonck (NL), Burt Delarosa (EN)
  • Gemma Holst (NL), Griselda Holst (EN), Gemelda (both)

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear.

The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past.

In chapter 11: The town has to vote on what to do with Arthur’s dead body. Also we get the first strong hint that people in this town are… well… They’re just a tiny jump away from medieval lynching.

Chapter 12 – Scene 1

FAIR WARNING: Jaymer is a misogynist ass and he spends this chapter doing misogynist things mixing it with a heavy dose of Islamophobia AND sprinkling homophobic slurs onto the mess. Oh, AND animal abuse. He’s guilty of that too.

We’re off to a great morning where everyone is grumpy. Tyler calls his brother a douche bag. Timo calls him a ‘kneus’, which is really more like ‘nerd’ than ‘douche bag’, at least as far as I know. Curiously, Matt is studying a history book while Max is studying physics. In addition, Tyler lies about it being Staff Development Day and he has the whole day off. Timo, meanwhile, doesn’t start classes until the afternoon when he’s got two solid hours of Ancient Greek. And this is where we see the changes to the setting in action again, I think, though I don’t know enough about the US school system to say what, exactly, they are.

We do know that Timo is taking the most difficult Dutch secondary school route, though, because it’s the only one that includes Greek (and Latin) as a subject. It’s voluntary, but it’s basically signing yourself up for two ADDITIONAL courses. Or would’ve been when Olde Heuvelt was in secondary school, if I recall.

Basically, it adds a layer to Timo calling his brother a ‘kneus’ that’s entirely missing from the English translation (and would require you to know enough about the Dutch system to really notice it, but I’d kind of like to hope that people would pick up on the fact that Greek is not likely to be a common Dutch school subject even if they know NOTHING about the system.) Anyway! Yay, layers! Boo the translation not trying to keep them!

And Tiy has an anxiety attack over what he’s doing. It’s a relatively detailed one too, though it sticks to his thoughts rather than his physical reactions.

We also lose a proverb in the translation. Tyler’s wondering who’ll open his mouth (about the restrictions on, y’know, THE INTERNET) if he won’t? Timo is wondering much the same thing, but with an underlying current of being better than the others for doing it. It ties into Dutch society quite, um, powerfully, so let’s take a moment and unpack what’s going on!

The Dutch sentence is: En als hij niet zijn kop boven het maaiveld zou uitsteken, wie dan wel?

Literally, this translates as: And if he wouldn’t stick his head above the mowing field, who would?

I know. I know. It’s a horror book and you’ve got a very gruesome image of someone’s head getting chopped off by a field mower to work with here, but the proverb’s more than that. It’s a very common refrain that means “Don’t be better than anyone else. Bad things happen to people who think they’re better than anyone else”. It’s a warning. It says “Don’t take pride in your accomplishments” and “Don’t be a hero”. It says “Be like everyone else (or else)”. If you ever want to write a stereotype about Dutch people, infuse them with this idea of equality that says that everyone is exactly the same and no one is more remarkable for anything than another person. (Basically, take what you know of American idea of meritocracy and multiply.)

And that is what underlies Timo’s thoughts here. He’s not just thinking about who’ll speak up about the draconian internet laws in Beek. He’s actively casting himself as something everything in society tells him not to be. He’s very actively casting himself in a hero and even a saviour role with that image. He’s saying “I dare be better and braver than these other people because someone needs to do it”.

So… Yeah. The English version loses out on that idea of self-image because it’s only about speaking up. “And if he didn’t open his mouth, who would?” For all we know he’s just being a brat about it. There’s no impact to the statement the way the Dutch.

Oh. Right. I’d forgotten this is the chapter where Jaymer cuts up Kat’s clothing and stabs her. To the book’s credit, Tiy actually calls what Jaymer does out as abuse and wrong. Only the stabbing and cutting into a woman’s breast, though and it’s only one line whereas the rest of the text focuses, in quite a lot of detail, on how her breast looks and the effect of the cut.

Poor dog. We get a very brief moment of Jaymer being a scared young person whom you could maybe empathise with given we now also know some of what his back story is, but I’m sorry. I have no empathy or sympathy for him at this point. (Yes, that does actually happen.)

Chapter 12 – Scene 2

FORESHADOWING through imagery. A storm is coming! OH NOES!

Sorry. I’m just not feeling the scariness.

Expeditie Robinson has been replaced with American Idol. They’re both popular mainstream commercial entertainment programs on TV, but Expeditie Robinson dumps local celebrities onto an island and asks them to rough it out rather than offer up short entertainment acts. I’m sure I’ve seen US programs that are similar, but I’m too lazy to check what they’re called and I’m not sure how popular they’d be compared to American Idol.

Oh, look. More foreshadowing.

Chapter 12 – Scene 3

The dog’s missing! This whole scene is building up the tension of what’s happened to the dog. Most of it relies on that unspoken rule of fiction that you don’t kill the pets. They make it through. Especially if the pet’s a dog.

I, uh, don’t think Dutch authors care much about that rule? Olde Heuvelt is toying with it here, and in the interest of spoilering everything for the people who think adherence to that rule is important:

The dog doesn’t make it. Yes, Olde Heuvelt went there. The dog dies. Horrifically. It may not be in the next chapter in detail, I’ve forgotten, but the dog dies. Don’t get your hopes up. Also, just so you know, the English version breaks this up into two scenes. The Dutch one does not.