Introducing Belgium’s Master Fantasist


Just like last week, Belgium, for reasons obtuse and inexplicable is on my mind.

I discovered at 50 Watts a guest post by Edward Gauvin about a Belgian writer named Thomas Owen that English-only readers are not going to encounter anytime soon. As a fan of pseudonyms, alter-egos and Pessoa’s heteronyms, I loved this autobiographical description of Owen:

“The story goes like this: there once was a lawyer named Gérald Bertot, who worked all his life in the management of the same flour-milling factory. He held a doctorate in criminology, and a side career in art criticism under the pseudonym Stéphane Rey.

Spared service in World War II, he turned to writing mysteries for money, with the encouragement of Stanislas-André Steeman, a celebrated craftsman of Belgian noir. In Tonight at Eight (1941), he introduced the police commissioner Thomas Owen–a character whose name he liked so much he later took it as his own when he embarked on what he has called his true calling, his career as a fantasist.”

The only book by Owen translated into English can be purchased to the tune of 300 some dollars on the internet. Which, if I had the money, might be worth it.

Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →