The Boatbuilder: A review
I have struggled with writing the review for this book. Not because it wasn't good but because I couldn't determine how good. Nor could I determine if I truly liked it.
We meet Berg who is a struggling "recovering" addict who is stealing opioids from a random house of an older person (that we later find out is the person he will eventually work for). We are taken through his journey of addiction, pain, heartache, and just plain ol life.
The great thing about this story is that it is extremely timely. The problem with this story is that we have read it in different ways multiple times by different writers. But to be honest what stories are completely brand new. Many books have nuances of age-old themes riddled throughout. Where Gumbiner differs, I guess, is that his writing is quite masterful.
It is not a book I would typically read; however, I saw him do a reading at a local festival and I was drawn to Berg's story and knew it was an important one that needed to be told.
at different times throughout the book, you are reminded why this book was Longlisted for the NBA award. "Poetry is just empty sophistication. And sophistication is how we got into this whole mess in the first place" "it takes time to build affection for something. You have to stay in a place. It doesn't happen instantly..." "He wanted to go all the way to the bottom, to scoop up its brown muck and hold it in his hands. At least then he would know where he was."
Lines like these and many others illustrated why Gumbiner is a good writer, yet there were times where the story fell flat. There were far too many characters to keep up with and many of them did not play a pivotal role in the novel. In such a short novel, I was hoping for more development of the characters that actually mattered and leaving some of the details out of the side characters.
It is hard to call the characters "side characters" when you know that the author wrote them and meant for their very existence to enhance the story; however, sometimes a reader who WANTS to commit to following the storyline of the book is stuck re-reading the previous pages to make sure they did not get lost in the characters nor the point.
Even with my many critiques, I still gave this book 4 stars.
That is because I feel like it is a book that I won't ever re-visit, but will stick with me forever in a good way. I compared it to the Old Man and The Sea. I hated that book when I read it when I was younger nad I have never revisited that book since yet i can tell you the whole story and now that I am older I can tell you that I fully understand the purpose and themes of that book.
The Boatbuilder is a book that will most likely stay in the crevices of my memory constantly unfolding and reshaping into examples and meanings that I wasn't quite ready to understand during the time I was actually engrossed in the pages. And to me that deserves four stars.