Review of Uncle by Albert van der Steeg

Short Story Reviews / Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

What must it be like to be a child in the presence of a full-grown adult who suffers from mental illness? Is he strange? Eccentric? Dangerous? And why are all the other adults so upset?

These are the questions posed in Uncle, by Albert van der Steeg. His main character, a child, cannot understand his uncle’s strange behavior, nor why his father and aunt are so distressed about it.

Uncle is a very short read that touches on some very heavy issues, issues that children are not equipped to deal with. Reading more like a journal entry than a short story, the reader wonders if this is, in fact, a short memoir or essay piece. Regardless, Albert does a great job describing the discomfort and sadness experienced while being in the presence of a loved one suffering from mental illness. Understanding is difficult for children. Decision making is difficult for adults. And then there is the person suffering.

The story is a bit choppy, and I can’t figure out if it’s because the story mostly takes place from the point of view of a child, or perhaps because something was lost in the story’s translation. I would have liked to see details of the evening’s events as well as the aftermath broadened. I also think that the adult perspective at the end, explaining why the uncle suffers the way he does, is what really changed this from a story to journal entry, and that if the story had remained entirely from the perspective of the child, it would have remained firmly in the realm of short story.

Check out Albert van der Steeg’s Uncle, right here.

Official Kristine’s BRF rating:

Photo courtesy of JD Designs via Unsplash.

One Reply to “Review of Uncle by Albert van der Steeg”

  1. It’s written from the remembrance of an adult who witnessed these scenes as a child and the realising what must have caused all this. Sad thing is that it all really happened. The piece was written after I recently decided to search for the whereabouts of the uncle during the war. There were some very contradictory stories in the family. It’s still not 100% certain, but it’s impossible to get to that.

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