Westerman was born in Emmen and raised in Assen. Due to the crown, the writer was often in the provincial capital to care for his parents. “I treated them as informal caregivers. That’s why I wrote this book in my old boys’ room on the outskirts of Assen.
‘Pure sense of youth’
Westerman, known for his award-winning non-fiction works such as De grain Republic, attended high school in Assen. His new book is about this place and in particular the star dome that is built on the roof of the old school, which is now called CS Vincent van Gogh.
“It all started here, in this dome,” Westerman beams. “How special that it still exists. Pure youthful feeling!”
(Watch the report on Frank Westerman returning to his old school in Assen here. The story continues below the video)
The dome of CS Van Gogh was built at the same time as the Westerbork Observatory. The idea was that the young people of Drenthe could get to know the stars, which are examined nearby. “I managed to generate enthusiasm!”, Laughs Westerman. He got caught up in it. “The planets invite you like forbidden fruits. They are really beautiful. You would like to go there and it is more and more within reach.”
His new book is specifically about reaching for the stars. “In fact, all of my books aim to reach the unattainable,” Westerman says. “Dreams that turn into a nightmare. We all want a better world. Often times that doesn’t work and we just drizzle rain.”
“That’s why I wanted to write so much about astronomy and space travel,” says native Emmen. “People see it as the ultimate attempt to make it better, but space travel also highlights the mess on Earth. It exposes the human deficit.”
The book’s launch was previously planned, but has been postponed. “At the request of bookstores,” Westerman explains. “Soon he will be allowed to pick up orders from stores. That’s why he will be in stores from February 9. From that date, three scouts will also arrive on planet Mars, so it’s going to be fine.”
The book talks about man’s desire to discover space. Would Westerman also like a trip to space himself? “I would like that, but it scares me,” he laughs. “An astronaut’s capsule is very tight. To go into space, you first have to be in a tight space. And this anxiety takes a bit of me.”