Duck Pie

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Albert Camus isn’t light vacation reading. He also penned the least likely passage to make it into Amsterdam’s tourism promotional materials.

When I travel, I try to pack fiction about the place I’m visiting. But I’d forgotten to do my research before a planned long layover in Amsterdam that would give us a few hours’ wandering around the city, and the only novel that had come to mind that day in Kramerbooks was The Fall, about a narcissistic French expat who plays lawyer to criminals and outcasts in a post-war dive bar called the Mexico City and leads you, the reader, around the city telling him the secrets of his past.

The expat asks: “Have you noticed that Amsterdam’s concentric canals resemble the circles of hell? The middle-class hell, of course, peopled with bad dreams. When one comes from the outside, as on gradually goes through those circles, life — and hence its crimes —…

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