Sunday, September 20, 2009

Waiting for Columbus

by Thomas Trofimuk

Thumbs up.

I give this book a thumbs up, but with a caveat that I'll address later.

Mr Trofimuk spins a tale of mystery and intrigue; love and pain. He tells the story of a person who thinks he is Christopher Columbus. Consuela, a nurse at the Sevilla Institute for the Mentally Ill, is trying to help Mr. Columbus find his way back to reality. Mr. Columbus gradually tells Consuela his story, which we hear in snippets. Trofimuk bases the man's tale on the biography of the real Christopher Columbus with occasional lapses by the patient into modern situations, such as when he tells of looking for his parking place or answering a phone.

We also follow the tale of the the Interpol detective, Emile Germain, who is healing from his own traumatic experience while searching for a missing person who was last seen in Spain. Hmm, convenient.

The book is rich in sensual experience. I mean that in the truest sense of the the word "sensual," as in "appealing to the senses." Many times I could almost smell the air; taste the food or wine; hear the music or street noises.

The author uses metaphor generously, but in a pretty way, not contrived or forced. The language is often very poetic, as when the detective, Emile, momentarily recalls the playful personality of the car-rental woman. He "presses the button on the door panel and the window opens. He lets the car-rental woman slip out the window and into the hot day."

The complaint I have with the book is one common to most contemporary novels. Too much, too graphically described male/female interaction stuff. Although much of it in this book is cloaked in metaphor reminiscent of the Biblical Song of Solomon, none of it is necessary to the story line, almost all of it is between unmarried persons, and on at least two occasions does Mr. Trofimuk cross the line into graphic description. And, well, the author's great descriptive talents...let's just say he doesn't leave them behind for these parts.

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