Kluun, Ray 1964- (Raymond van de Klundert)
Kluun, Ray 1964- (Raymond van de Klundert)
Born Raymond van de Klundert, December 4, 1964; married, 1995; wife's name Judith (a recruiting consultant; died, 2001); married second wife, Nathalie, 2005; children: (first marriage) Eva.
Managed a marketing agency.
Book prize, Holland, 2006, for Komt een vrouw bij de dokter.
Komt een vrouw bij de dokter, 2003, translation by Shaun Whiteside published as Love Life, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2007.
Ray Kluun is a Dutch writer whose novel Komt een vrouw bij de dokter bears a resemblance to his own life. Kluun told Kay Burley of Sky News that Dan, the husband in the novel, "is Ray Kluun gone totally out of control."
Kluun's wife, Judith, died of breast cancer in 2001, at the age of thirty-six. Two years earlier Kluun quit his job to provide support for his wife, whose cancer had progressed and whose prognosis was bleak, but he succumbed to a weakness that led him to have sex with other women. Judith deteriorated and one breast was removed. Kluun writes: "Losing her breast was terrible for Judith. A woman's breasts are the visual part of her femininity and sexuality." Daily Mail reviewer Natalie Clarke wrote: "This apparent understanding of the profundity of what was happening to Judith did not deter Ray from his quest to notch up as many sexual conquests as he could." Kluun went to bars with friends for the sole purpose of finding women who would sleep with him. Clarke commented: "Some very charitable minds might regard him as an honest realist, but most will see him as a piercingly cruel, selfish adulterer."
After a string of one-night stands, Kluun found another relationship with Nathalie, and two months later Judith was diagnosed with liver cancer. She now knew there was no hope. Kluun and Judith took their daughter, Eva, not yet three, to a child psychologist so that they would understand how her mother's illness and death might affect her. Judith may have suspected that her husband had retreated from her, because she offered him a divorce. Kluun then told her about the other women, but not about Nathalie. He stayed by her side during the last weeks, and after Judith's death, he continued his relationship with Nathalie, marrying her in 2005.
Published in English as Love Life, Kluun's novel, called "wrenching, humorous, compelling," by Booklist reviewer Whitney Scott, is the story of a couple, Dan and Carmen, whose lives are shattered when Carmen is diagnosed with cancer. They also have a daughter, Luna. Dan goes with Carmen to her chemotherapy sessions and is in all ways a devoted husband, until he isn't, pursuing women as beautiful as his wife once was and becoming integrated into the nightlife of Miami and Amsterdam. Dan's love for Carmen turns to pity, and he begins a relationship with Rose. When Dan has an automobile accident after a bout of drinking and carousing, Carmen leaves him, but they reconcile. She chooses euthanasia, which is legal in the Netherlands, and says her farewells to friends and loved ones before she dies.
"All the detail is there in its awful clarity and the roller-coaster of emotions is laid out for all to see," wrote Sue Magee for the Bookbag online. "There's the fact that even the most dreadful situation can, without warning, degenerate into slapstick comedy. There were times when I had tears running down my face and sometimes I laughed out loud on the same page." Library Journal contributor Bette-Lee Fox felt that although "the resolution of Carmen's illness is never really in doubt, the path Kluun takes to get there is cathartic for the reader as well."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Whitney Scott, review of Love Life, p. 29.
Daily Mail (London, England), April 19, 2007, Natalie Clarke, review of Love Life.
Library Journal, May 15, 2007, Bette-Lee Fox, review of Love Life, p. 80.
Marie Claire, September, 2007, Colleen Oakley, "Ray Kluun Played the Field While His Wife Was Dying, Then Wrote a Novel about It," p. 156.
Publishers Weekly, May 7, 2007, review of Love Life, p. 39.
Bookbag,http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/ (November 17, 2007), Sue Magee, review of Love Life.
Sky News,http://news.sky.com/ (April 24, 2007), Kay Burley, "Man Who Cheated on Dying Wife Tells All."