A goofy little novel about a industrial record keeper in Antwerp who decides, mostly out of the blue, to pick up the cheese business. What this means is that he gets sold on the idea of becoming a cheese importer, as a side venture, but a sketchy businessman. Because he views himself as quite smart, way smarter than his wife, he quickly signs the contract on the promise of a high salary and potential for more profit. When he tells his wife she quickly realizes how bad the deal is, and shows him. He’s now saddled with thousands of edam cheese rounds, and has to find a way to offload them.
This is a funny little book about capitalism, and especially the rights of the individual to make extraordinarily poor decisions. This decision happens to be at the crossroads of ambition and overconfidence, but also in the ways in which contracts and laws can easily prey upon untrained (and willfully blind) individuals. Almost like usury laws, but more so like pyramid schemes in which the unsold stock dumped on poor enterprising individuals (however willing they are to take it on) become a loss of the single person instead of the corporation. It’s not quite an MLM, but it’s close. Because this is a first person novel and because we are treated to our narrator’s officious and overconfidence, it’s easy to situate the folly entirely on him, but for me, comedy aside, it’s hard to not look at this as failures of a system.