I am in one of those very delicate positions of wanting to write a review of a book I am absolutely crazy about. I have to hit that perfect balance of telling you just how great this book is, without overdoing it. Even describing what Waiting for Columbus, Thomas Trofimuk’s debut novel, is about is hard. There is just so much there, too much to even hope to condense in a cognizant way, but I shall try, for you, my dear readers, because I loves you and wants you to read this book because I knows whats best for you. Trust me.
Christopher Columbus is alive and well and he’s looking for his ships so that he can sail to the west and prove that it is possible, and quicker, to sail to Japan and India by that route. At least that is what the strange, good-looking, angry man who was pulled from the Straits of Gilbrator would have everyone believe. When he is taken to an asylum in Seville, Spain, he understandably flips out. Once calm, he begins to tell his story to his nurse, Consuela, who is instantly intrigued, and smitten, with this strange, sad, confused man.
Columbus’s stories are passionate, haunting, and spellbinding. As he tells his stories, this man’s own, true story, begins to come to the surface. Small clues at first, like the suggestion of a telephone, or a television, show that Columbus isn’t exactly who he thinks he is. It all builds up to a crescendo that, once met, leads to an astonishing portrait of one man’s desperate mission to forget the one, tragic thing, that lead to such an unusual, and heartbreaking, split from reality.
This is Trofimuk’s first novel, but it definitely does not read like a first novel. He definitely knows what he’s doing. The writing is without a doubt some of the most beautiful and poignant I’ve ever read. He brought me to tears with one. word. One word. And it was such a simple word, but it was heartbreaking. And please, don’t let my talk of tears and heartbreaking and poignancy put you off. This book is sad, yes, but it is so beautiful. I’ll give you a quote, to wet your appetite…
He looks at her as she sets the chessmen in their starting positions. Her astounding blue eyes-a cross between periwinkle and navy. Shoulder-length black hair and a smile that ruins him. It’s as if her smiles do not come froma shallow place but, rather, come from the holy place in her, where prayers, and faith, and love exist. It is not that she rarely smiles. Consuela smiles often. It is just that he has noticed her smiles are not frivolous. They are, inded, like prayers, like colorful flags with prayers printed on them. p.278
There are days when she wishes she could be blunt, or even violent. She’d like to shake him-get the remaining stories to fall onto the ground. Then they could stand around and look at the bones of his stories, all haphazard and abstruse on the pebbles. In the clear light of day, they could perhaps make sense of these bones, put them in order, find the end, and more important, find the beginning before the beginning. p281.
See? The prose! It’s beautiful! Don’t look to Amazon for reviews of this book, those buggers don’t know what they are talking about. Look at what I, Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog (whose review is the one that pushed me to read this book) and Fizzy Thoughts have to say.
Waiting for Columbus is a dazzling, devastating,one of a kind book that I found impossible to put down. I talked about it non-stop as I was reading it, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon. This is a read that will keep you breathless and leave you gasping for more. 5 out of 5.
While the bulk of this novel is about Columbus and his entertaining stories, the end is what makes the book. But I can’t tell you about the end, because then I’d just destroy your reading journey. Let me just say it’s incredible. Moving. And awesomely done. You just have to have faith that everything will be explained, and sit back and enjoy the experience.
This is one of those novels that will stay with you. It is one that won’t let you put it down. It is one of those novels that, once you turn that last page, will be begging you to read it again. It’s one of those novels that might very well change your life. It is definitely a great way to start the reading year.
Waiting for Columbus
Written byThomas Trofimuk
Category: Fiction – Psychological
Published by Random House
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
On Sale: August 25, 2009
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