Habers, Walther A(drianus) 1926-
HABERS, Walther A(drianus) 1926-
PERSONAL: Born March 12, 1926, in Zwolle, Netherlands; son of Anton (a police officer) and Adriana Habers; married Helena Folmer (a social worker), January 30, 1985; children: Frederik, Esther.
ADDRESSES: Home—Reviusrondeel 197, 2902 EE Capelle a/d Ijssel, Netherlands.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as a police officer, bookkeeper, coffee dealer, and broker of cocoa, spices, tea, and peanuts. Dutch Ground Nut Association, chair.
Involved (novel), Soho Press (New York, NY), 1994, printed in Holland as De Winnaar, reprinted as The Way Back, Gopher Publishers (online).
In Heaven It's Not All Roses Either, Gopher Publishers (online).
The Penthouse People, Gopher Publishers (online).
SIDELIGHTS: Dutch author Walther A. Habers enjoyed a number of professions, including law enforcement and coffee trading, before taking up writing after retirement. Habers's first novel, Involved, was published in 1994. Set in the Netherlands, Involved focuses on Bram Aardsen, an affluent, cavalier sports car dealer in Haarlem, and his marriage, which becomes troubled after he accidentally cripples a young boy. Twelve-year-old Dick Verwal has both feet amputated after being hit by Aardsen's Alfa Romeo, and Aardsen is racked with guilt. He visits the boy in the hospital during the recuperation, and a friendship develops between them despite the circumstances when Aardsen discovers that Dick also is an automobile aficionado. Aardsen's obsession with making amends rouses the jealous and suspicious nature of his wife, Francien, whose increasingly tempestuous rages—she thinks Aardsen and Dick's attractive mother are having an affair—eventually cripples the relationship. Francien's friend Marjet sees the Aardsen marriage is in trouble and tries to bring Bram and Francien back together.
In Involved, a chain of events begins that shares parallels with earlier incidents—a junkie trying to vandalize Aardsen's car gets both his legs broken, and, in Milan, Francien fractures a carjacker's skull and kills him. This incident leads to Francien's appearance on an Italian television show and being hailed as a feminist hero. Dick's mother, Pauline, also emerges as an integral character in her own right. In the end, Francien befriends the boy, Aardsen emerges as a little less self-centered, and, as Washington Post Book World writer Sandra Scofield explained, "everyone behaves admirably." Scofield also praised Habers's characterization of the women of Involved, noting that they seem to begin as mere peripheral adjuncts but emerge as "bright and tough." Scofield further asserted: "What might have been a mere comedy of marital manners shudders with reminders of fate, then trembles with tenderness." Andy Solomon in the Detroit News noted: "The value of marriage is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults. That might be an ideal epigraph for this quirky, heartwarming first novel." Calling Habers's writing "clinical," Chris Goodrich told Los Angeles Times readers that "you could almost guess [Habers is] a former policeman." The critic added that Habers's writing style "keeps the story moving along solidly, if not inventively."
Habers told CA: "In the early sixties I tried my hand at a novel. It was a wonderful experience, although I got no further than one chapter. I then decided I would try again after I retired. At the end of 1988 I wrote the first line of Involved and a year later it was finished. At least that's what I thought. I learned later that I'm one of those writers with an idea and no plot. Every page I wrote was new to me. I was the first to read my own book. Very fascinating. Before Soho Press accepted it three years later I had already revised it eight times. I am still ashamed I dared to submit the first version.
"Involved is about the unwritten small print on the marriage contract; whether to divorce or not to divorce? If a beautiful thing as the sparkle of love short-circuits, it shouldn't lead to hate and contempt."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Detroit News, December 21, 1994.
Los Angeles Times, November 27, 1994.
Publishers Weekly, August 22, 1994, pp. 39-40.
Washington Post Book World, October 30, 1994.