In The Wake Of The Boatman by Jonathon Scott Fuqua
“On this oppressive Norfolk evening, the notion came to him so calmly it almsot made sense. He should crack his little boy’s neck as gently as possible. It would be like saving two lives.” -p. 1
So begins Puttnam Steward’s relationship with his father Carl. The two never get along, nothing Puttnam can do is good enough for Carl, and eventually Puttnam stops wanting to please his father and resents him isntead. The dysfunction of Putt’s family doesn’t simply stop with his father, either. Putt’s mother is an alcoholic and his brother-in-law is cruel and paranoid and hates Putt. In the midst of this Putt is struggling with gender identity, serving three tours of duty in Vietnam, and worrying that he has never accomplished anything in his life.
“In The Wake Of The Boatman” is a lyrical, complex character-driven novel. The writing was incredibly descriptive and beautiful, and I really got the feeling that I was inside Puttnam’s head. That being said, I had a really difficult time getting into this book. It took me twice as long to get through the first 1/3 of the book than it did to get through the remainder. I think my problem was that the book was just far more psychological than my brain can handle right now, reading primarily while feeding the baby. When I finally carved out an hour to read nonstop, the book began flowing better for me and I started to enjoy it much more.
Although it was a tough start for me, I ended up enjoying “In The Wake Of The Boatman” for Fuqua’s skill in characterization and turn of phrase. Just make sure if you read it you’re in the mood to concentrate on a book!
Thank you to Harrison from Bancroft Press for sending me this book to review!