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The Boatbuilder

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At 28 years old, Eli "Berg" Koenigsberg has never encountered a challenge he couldn't push through, until a head injury leaves him with lingering headaches and a weakness for opiates. Berg moves to a remote Northern California town, seeking space and time to recover, but soon finds himself breaking into homes in search of pills. Addled by addiction and chronic pain, Berg meets Alejandro, a reclusive, master boatbuilder, and begins to see a path forward. Alejandro offers Berg honest labor, but more than this, he offers him a new approach to his suffering, a template for survival amid intense pain. Nurtured by his friendship with Alejandro and aided, too, by the comradeship of many in Talinas, Berg begins to return to himself. Written in gleaming prose, this is a story about resilience, community, and what it takes to win back your soul.

240 pages, Paperback

First published May 22, 2018

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Daniel Gumbiner

10 books20 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 134 reviews
Profile Image for Meike.
1,475 reviews2,316 followers
September 17, 2018
Nominated for the National Book Award 2018
This debut novel finds the roots of the opioid crisis in hot button issues from the 19th century and seeks possible solutions in meditation, mindfulness, and a return to nature - it's not that Daniel Gumbiner is completely wrong with his ideas, but content and form of this book are extremely tame, there is nothing particularly interesting or challenging here for a reader in 2018. In fact, after five minutes of reading this, I thought the author wanted to point me in a certain direction in order to then play with a well-known narrative convention, but as it turns out, the whole book is simply the execution of this very convention: Guy struggling to give his life direction finds salvation by doing manual work in a natural setting. Plus OxyContin.

Our protagonist is 27-year-old Eli "Berg" Koenigsberg who, after suffering a concussion, developed an opioid addiction. As his work for an IT start-up in the city does not satisfy him, he takes a job as a housesitter in the countryside. When he walks into the shop of a local boatbuilder, he spontaneously decides to become an apprentice, and the owner hires him on the spot although Berg has never done anything like this before. Will Berg overcome his addiction? Will he become a master boatbuilder? And what's the deal with his mystical boss?

The fact that modernity has the potential to destroy humankind's connection to nature and that technology, capitalism, division of labor etc. have an immense impact on human identity were major literary themes in the 19th century, starting with Schiller's Naive and Sentimental Poetry - On the Sublime - unfortunately, this is the 21th century, and to just throw opioids into the mix is not enough to make this text relevant.

Apart from the conventionality, I also had an issue with the fact that the book relies heavily and unnecessarily on coincidence: It's clear why Gumbiner wants Berg to learn how to build a boat - his protagonist will drown if he doesn't find something to keep him afloat in his life, and the opioids don't work all too well in the long run. But why does Berg have this epiphany as soon as he walks into the shop? All kinds of people seem to spontaneously get jobs in this town, detainees escape from prison to hang out at the most suspicious places without being caught, people suffer the exact same injury three times in a row, and "Fish", the dog, suddenly disappears from the narrative.

Then there's Berg's telling name, which means "mountain" in German, a kid talks about her teacher "Ms Gans" (Ms Goose) while Berg is building a shack for geese (no narrative pupose here), and on top of that, I don't want to read Coelho/self-help-sentences like these:

- "He wanted people to have an intimate relationship with their own environment."
- "When we really pay attention to a thing, we begin to love it, and then we care for it."
- "No one taught me to look at the darkness, to sit with it. But you've got to go into it."
- "All of our lives we are doing. Constantly judging. And this doing, this judging, it prevents us from seeing what is happening right in front of us."

What I liked about the book though is that Gumbiner talks about the fact that Berg is actually treating pain with these opioids - he does not just want to get high, he is truly suffering, which means that once he quits, he has to find ways to deal with the pain. I wish Gumbiner had explored this angle more, because this aspect is crucial when it comes to overcoming addiction to painkillers. Another interesting path that Gumbiner might have followed further is the question how much dedication to a task is too much - when does mindfulness become obsession? An intriguing question, sadly underexplored.

Still, I don't get how this book apparently prevented Ottessa Moshfegh's My Year of Rest and Relaxation from appearing on the longlist - Moshfegh's book about prescription drugs is much more daring and unsettling. Gumbiner's text could have been an addition to the "Young People's Literature" list though, as it is highly accessible and straightforward.

I feel a little bad that I didn't find more to like in this text, because I have a hunch that it was simply too early to include Gumbiner on the NBA list - he is just getting started as a novelist, and he is clearly talented, so he might do great things in the future.
Profile Image for Jerrie.
985 reviews127 followers
October 10, 2018
This NBA longlisted title (did not make the shortlist) looks at how a young man struggles to overcome his opioid addiction. He does so primarily by running away from his life and studying boat building. Beyond this, though, the narrative felt rather empty.
Profile Image for Erin Glover.
451 reviews36 followers
September 25, 2018
E.B. White’s quotation in the beginning of the book taken from a letter he wrote to his wife sums up the journey for the novel’s protagonist: “I have had an entirely new feeling about life ever since making an ax handle…”

Twenty-eight-year-old Berg shows up in the imaginary town of Talinas, California to housesit for a friend after a stint in rehab for opioid addiction. He feels being in a small, hippy town next to the bay will help him stay sober. Talinas is unique:

Many people in Muire County believed that, if you lived in Talinas long enough, you would inevitably go crazy. They said that, before the town was built, the local indigenous people used the land for ceremonies to communicate with the spirit world. No one was supposed to live there or else they would become part spirit.

But before long, he’s burglarizing homes in search of drugs to quell his chronic headaches.

He takes a job with a boatbuilder, Alejandro, a man in his mid-sixties, renowned for his superior boat building skills. Alejandro teaches Berg much more than boat building. Berg’s first lesson is to sharpen a tool. Berg can’t get it right. Alejandro tells him the only way to do it is to lose himself in the process. In essence, to be fully present in the moment. This is exceedingly difficult for Berg whose thoughts run wild.

Alejandro also teaches Berg to use the resources that are around him in his daily life to live well. For example, the trees used to build the boats come from Talinas and for that reason, Alejandro teaches, they serve the boats’ purposes. In keeping with Talinas’s reputation, many people believe Alejandro is a bit crazy.

Berg keeps honing his skills for Alejandro. He can’t quite kick the opioid addiction. But under Alejandro’s tutelage, more and more the boat building becomes a metaphor for his life, through being “in the zone”, meditation, and the feeling of accomplishment of making a jib or some other boat part. His old life working in a stressful silicon-valley job falls away. But how will this help his searing headaches and addiction?

This is a beautiful story of immersion in everyday life through work and relationships to combat internal devils. There are no magic bullets in this story, no caped heros, no saviors. Berg is an ordinary person on the verge of finding answers, beauty, and fulfillment in an ordinary life. What the novel lacked in prose, it made up for in a beautiful story and a captivating protagonist.
Profile Image for Ariel.
1,700 reviews30 followers
August 23, 2018
I love this book. It's clean and spare and well written but not self-consciously minimalistic. It's the story of a guy who finds himself addicted to narcotics after a concussion, and finds the ability to stay sober and live one moment at a time in working with his hands, building boats, and serving an apprenticeship to a brilliant old boatbuilder. We don't hear much (if anything) about his 12 Step recovery, but the principles are all there. I'd like to own this book and give it to people. I think what I appreciate so much about it is that it's small, not overly dramatic, yet the characters in the book change in important, meaningful ways.
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,461 reviews445 followers
May 12, 2020
This book had me at boats. Or maybe Northern California. But otherwise the main appeal was the adventure of finding oneself. Or not an adventure as such, that makes one think of something terribly exciting with circuses and pirates. This is the quietest sort of adventure, to use the book’s theme Berg, its protagonist, isn’t a ship on a mission, he’s more of a small boat drifting along the coast that finds a safe port. Berg’s life isn’t a storm, but it’s something of a sh*tstorm when we first meet him, plundering (oh man, I just can’t help this pirate thing) through someone’s place, looking to steal to support his addiction. Berg is a semifuctional junkie at best, a 27 year old who drops out of life and goes to a small town, Talinas, to try to get himself under control. Talinas is a classic small town in literature, meaning nice scenery and quirky locals. None quirkier that the local mad genius boatbuilder Alejandro. Eventually Berg ends up being his apprentice and friend and in doing so, in learning a trade, in actively becoming enmeshed in his community, he finally finds some peace, he finally finds himself…or at least the present version. Because as Berg mentions again and again in a properly millennial noncommittal way…this is his life for now. But at least it’s a life based on conscious decisions, no more drifting. So all this to say it’s a pretty quiet story, slice of life sort of thing, not a lot of action, not an overwhelming amount of characters evolutions, Berg doesn’t go from a useless junkie to Talinas’ mayor and saves the town, no, it’s just a nice story and I use the word nice in the best possible way. Nice, pleasant, good. It’s a story about the importance of friendships and connections and finding a purpose. About hoping in a seemingly hopeless world for something more than what you have and what you are now. Talinas may not be a final destination on yours or Berg’s map, not physically, not metaphorically, but it is a lovely layover. The lighthouse’s beam in the dark stormy night for the restless and weary souls. That sort of thing, but without any gushing sentimentality or overromanticizing. Just a good story with great characters. Talinas is a pleasure to armchair visit. It’s a quick visit, but well worth your time.
Profile Image for Bob Brinkmeyer.
Author 9 books45 followers
September 10, 2018
I seem to be reading lots of "tweeners" these days, this one hovering between a 3 and 4 stars. Because some of my scholarly interest is in how craft and handwork have shaped identity in modern and contemporary Southern fiction, I was really looking forward to this book, to see how the issue of commitment to craft played out here, in a novel set on the West coast. While the issue of craft is certainly important, I was disappointed that Gumbiner didn't explore more deeply the values that are embedded in the craftsman's commitment to his vocation. Part of the problem is that the tension in the novel is not between craft and work (that is, work for wages, etc.) as one might expect, but between craft and drug abuse, as seen most tellingly in the struggles by Berg (the protagonist, a craftsman apprentice) with his opioid addiction. A lot of depth and complexity gets lost here. Adding to the problem is the fact that Alejandro, the master craftsman, is at the same time that he is committed to his boatbuilding VOCATION is also committed to his WORK for the drug trade (he doesn't run drugs himself but his boats do). Huh? Oddly, Alejandro seems not a wit concerned about this involvement, maybe because it brings him good, steady income. There's the rub, the contradiction that Gumbiner raises but does nothing with. A lot of questions go unanswered: Does it matter what uses the craftsperson's work is put to? Does Alejandro's work for the cartel undermine his craftsman status? Does the pursuit of steady income muddy Alejandro's commitment to his craft? Gumbiner gives us no clue, as if these questions are not important or relevant to this novel. They are.

One could argue that Alejandro is thoroughly his own man, an outsider loyal to his craft and his co-workers (including the drug runners), so that he is a sort of anti-establishment back-to-simplicity hero. But one would think that someone so smart, so committed to his vocation, might give some thought to the violence and greed at work in the drug enterprise--the violence and greed that of course supports his work. Had Gumbiner explored the contradictions at play with Alejandro, his novel would have been far richer and more complex. To my eyes, it's an opportunity missed, leaving us with a novel that ends up setting up issues without fully delving into their intricacies.
Profile Image for Tony.
29 reviews5 followers
August 6, 2018
This book is part Wendell Berry, part Nick Offerman situated within the modern day opioid epidemic.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,167 reviews53 followers
September 23, 2018
I've never been especially interested in California plant life or the construction of sea-faring vessels, but the passages describing them in "The Boatbuilder" are fascinating . . . because the rest of the book is so boring. A millennial suffers a series of head injuries which turn him into an opioid addict, so he drifts up to a Northern California coastal town where he learns life lessons from his new employer, an aging retired anthropologist turned eponymous "boatbuilder" who comes off like a cross between Wendell Berry and the Most Interesting Man In The World from those Dos Equis commercials. I apologize if that synopsis makes "The Boatbuilder" sound charming and quirky, its only charm is its brevity and its only quirk is its unapologetic predictability. Why does the magnificence of the California coast inspire such pointless novels? The only book I've ever read duller than "The Boatbuilder" is "Big Sur" by Jack Kerouac. Let the redwoods speak for themselves, boys.
Profile Image for Michael Jantz.
102 reviews8 followers
June 24, 2018
Terrific mood in this novel. Gumbiner's writing is buoyant and natural-feeling. Some of my favorite aspects are the character nuance, which I find most apparent in the dialogue. Not super heavy on the poetics or very experimental, but a fine book anyways.
Profile Image for LindaJ^.
2,113 reviews6 followers
September 26, 2018
So why is this first novel on the 2018 NBA fiction longlist? It is not great literature. It is not that it is bad but I'm at a loss to say what I gained from reading it.

The young man - Berg - who is the main character is in his late 20's. As the result of a concussion, he became addicted to opioids. He went to rehab. Then he quit his unsatisfying job writing anti-virus code (I think) and takes a housesitting job in a rural area of Northern California. The book begins with Berg stealing drugs from a home near the house he is taking care of. Then he finds out his girlfriend Nell is back from fronting for a band and coming to see him, so he quits the drugs. Then a coyote gets in the chicken pen. He cannot bring himself to kill the injured chicken so builds it a pen. Then he gets a job - boat maintenance - which is helping with charters and cleaning. Then he visits the local boatbuilder with his boss from the charter boat and when he hears the boatbuilder - Ale - has lost his apprentice, asks for the job. He's still working, although less, for the charter boat. There is an accident on the charter boat and he suffers another concussion. He starts drugs again. Then he overdoses. He wakes in the hospital where he is undergoing withdrawal because of the drug he was giving to counteract the overdose. Ale takes care of him and helps him deal with the headaches. Then he gets punched in the face - another concussion. But this time he stays straight.

There are also a few strange side stories. The boats being built are for a drug runner. Some of the gang get arrested but no one bothers the boatmaker. Ale's other employee has a bus that opens into a stage and he sometimes goes off in pursuit of a girl or other quest.

While Berg is fairly well developed, other characters are less so. The book is choppy in that there is often no apparent reason why a scene is included. But maybe that was intended. Maybe the reader is just supposed to live with Berg for a while and see what his life is like. This was more like a novella than a novel.

This was number 5 of the 10 books on the 2018 NBA fiction longlist.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
191 reviews
September 28, 2018
Three and a half stars. Another National Book Award nominee that I had not heard of before the list came out. Berg, the main character, is an opioid addict who moves to a fictional town called Talinas in Northern California and eventually becomes a boatbuilding apprentice.

I really loved Talinas and its inhabitants and was sad to discover that it is not a real place. The author makes the scenery sound so beautiful. Also, the quirky, free-spirited characters reminded me of those that lived in the Alaskan town where the 80s/90s series Northern Exposure was set. Very unlike my east coast existence.

The book was a little less successful for me in its discussion of recovery from addiction. I didn’t feel like it put me in the mind of an addict except at a few points. That said, it was interesting to read about the life of a somewhat functioning addict, which is different than what I often hear about from news reports on the opioid crisis.

Anyway, despite my sadness that I can’t visit Talinas, I enjoyed this book. I’m listening to Otessa Moshfegh’s book My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and I think it has a more interesting take on addiction, so that is another one worth checking out if you liked this book.
Profile Image for Ross Wilcox.
Author 1 book36 followers
June 6, 2019
A sparse, quiet novel about a white dude trying to recover from opioid addiction. He also tries to learn how to build boats, which is interesting. Does a great job with setting, the more rural and agricultural Northern areas of California.
Profile Image for Andrew.
2 reviews
July 5, 2018
This was a great book. It felt meditative reading it. There isn’t anything extraordinary about it but there is something compelling and enjoyable about it that is hard to describe.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
933 reviews93 followers
December 15, 2018
I appreciated the intent of the book, and the idea of salvation through craft, in this case boatbuilding, is always attractive; who has not found some solace through immersing themselves in a project that takes all you are and have? It was long listed for the National Book Award, and I wonder if it was simply because of the topic, opioid addiction, being well reported on by the media. It is an epidemic, and it is something I know a lot about as a professional, so just like Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone, I am disappointed that it portrays the medical field as causing the addiction, and then useless for rehab and treatment. It would be great if everyone had a wise sage to help them be part of the community and teach them how to live; we all need that, and it would be great if all opioid addicts could quit cold turkey. Otherwise, we have some revolutionary new medications (MAT or medication assisted treatment) that combined with talk therapy are helping people stay off all drugs, including opioids.

Yes, about 20 years ago, medical practitioners starting giving pain medications out like candy, but it was because we did not know better, and we honestly were trying to help people with chronic pain and you take a turn in the healthcare provider’s shoes encountering all this pain in the world and helpless to cure it. There is nearly no cure for chronic pain. It is so hard to sit in front of someone’s true pain and not try to do something to help them. But the sufferers still suffer. Tremendously. Opioids are not evil; the idea is you take them once in a while, when the pain is unbearable, to take the edge off to be able to function. Not everyone becomes addicted, and it is the brain chemistry that dictates that. A person with a history of drug addiction, or drinking too much, or bulimia, may already have the bad chemistry that will cause addiction, but you can’t tell.

If you know any medical terminology at all, when we take heart rate, blood pressure, temp, etc, we call them vital signs; the slogan was pain as the 5th vital sign, that is was so important to ask and treat without judgement. We were wrong. Not sure when this novel was set, it talks about the digital refugeehood of the main character, but also talks about putting Bush on trial, but concussions and headaches are not treated by opioids. And then after the snorting overdose of fentanyl, the medical professionals were depicted as judgmental and it was again, poorly done for the opioid addicts who might read this for inspiration. They will not find an Alejandro, but they could find a MAT Clinic. So disappointing.

Profile Image for Lynda.
324 reviews
September 24, 2018
Consider this novel a Northern Exposure (American television series) type of read where the characters are unique and the location of Talinas, California is like an island unto itself. A small town, where everyone seems to know each other. It is an escape people seem to gravitate to in order to start over, heal or simply get lost.
"Berg", the novel's main character, arrives in Talinas as an out of work, out of rehab Millenial who believes getting away from the big city will defuse his addiction to opiates. Yet, his appetite persists and it's through the soulful guidance of his employer, Alejandro, that he finds his life's calling. Well, his life's calling at the moment, for it seems the book is a reflection on the fact that life is a journey. Whether searching for happiness, safety, love, for purpose, we all need to find our way.
At the conclusion, eight year old Tess hopes to "have things figured out" by the age of 28. Yet, that's not always the case. Everyone has a different timeline and obstacles abound to steer one away from the anticipated goal forcing one to forge a new and unanticipated road.
It's a heavy thought, brought to you by this quiet and gentle read where not much seems to happen but the undertow, though not heavy handed, is engaging.
Profile Image for Edy.
213 reviews10 followers
June 8, 2019
This book feels like a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for this decade. It’s beautifully written with it’s simple yet stylish prose. It tackles the opioid epidemic in a way that resonates with my own personal feelings too.

Our generation was raised by baby boomers who mostly didn’t teach us how to navigate through suffering because they themselves didn’t experience much suffering.

This book teaches the value of physical labor and it’s calming effects on the brain. It also teaches us the value of community and our desire for human interaction. These types of actions have a mitigating effect on the urge to self medicate with drugs that dull physical and emotional pains in our lives.
Profile Image for Ben Seitzer.
38 reviews7 followers
January 31, 2021
I thought this was going to be another cliche “real men are simple and build things with their hands. Technology is the worst” novel (à la man called ove, a hologram for the king). To some extent it was..I feel like you could tell it was the author’s first novel, some parts are clunky. But overall: pleasantly surprised. Not super thought provoking or unpredictable but still a decent amount of depth and entertaining.
Profile Image for Drew.
1,569 reviews502 followers
November 9, 2018
A lovely slim novel of feeling adrift, of finding yourself, of grappling with opioid addiction. Rare is the addiction-narrative that allows you to feel like you aren't sinking into darkness along with the addicted character, but this always remains light even as bad things happen. It's a charming book, if one that I can't imagine thinking too hard about for much longer.
Profile Image for CindySR.
483 reviews
March 12, 2019
The many town characters kind of got in the way of the story and it was hard to keep all the names straight. All the boat building jargon and wood descriptions was also distracting. The subject of the story attracted me but I guess the characters were just too odd for me to relate to them. I liked and understood Berg so that's something.
349 reviews1 follower
March 19, 2019
This is definitely readable, but it's kind of amateurish. I suspect his second novel will be better. The two things he knows a lot about (drug addiction and boatbuilding) are portrayed with a lot of detail and nuance--though for some reason it was harder for me to really understand all the boat-building parts, even though I have never experienced EITHER of these things first hand. :-)
81 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2019
Low-key story about a young man's up and down journey to overcome opioid addiction. This leads him to an apprenticeship with a master boat builder whose wisdom and friendship guide him along the way.
Profile Image for Ally Muterspaw.
123 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2019
I think the concept and plot had a lot of potential, but I found the narrative fell a bit flat for me on some parts. I didn't think the structure was engaging for me enough to invest into the characters.
Profile Image for Norbert.
12 reviews
March 8, 2019
Good beginning effort. A simple story of an addict’s journey to better mental health, but populated with memorable characters.
Profile Image for Lisa.
598 reviews40 followers
December 24, 2018
This is a sweet, good-natured novel in which nothing much happens, but I enjoyed the ride very much. It follows a year or so in the life of a feckless but decent young man grappling with an opioid habit and figuring out what his next steps in life are. The protagonist, Berg, is a bit lost, but he's also a good guy whom you sense will be OK, and when his instincts lead him to boat-building and a tight little community as a way to keep himself afloat (zero pun intended, honestly) you can't help but root for him. Ultimately the book is a gentle tribute to the qualities of working with one's hands, learning a craft, talking to your neighbors, and taking your time with what you do. And you can't really argue with that, especially when a book is as nicely written and affable as this one.
Profile Image for Booklover.zzz.
243 reviews66 followers
January 28, 2019
The Boatbuilder was not my favorite of the reads assigned to us, unfortunately. The book was well-written, overall. However, I found the story to be problematic and not in the good way. For example, there were times I felt like I was being taught at. I felt that this started at the beginning of the book when the narrator was talking about opioids, rehab, etc.

The story didn’t read or feel like it was in the 21st century. It refers to the past more often and gave off a late 20th century feel. The realistic 21st century parts were partially there but it’s something that can be looked at and revisited in the future.

There are WAY too many characters, including animals. Some are forgotten and/or insignificant and others I liked and wished they would show up more often.

If someone asked me, “What the book about?” I’d have to say that I’m not sure what the main plot was. The 1st third of the book I got a feeling that I knew where the book was going but that changed after Berg met Alejandro. Too much started to happen.

What is clearly defined are the “main characters”. I know who Berg, Alejandro, Nell, etc. Berg is just a troubled soul trying to figure everything out. Alejandro plays the sort of “wise old man” role. Nell is trying to be the friendly girlfriend who wants what’s best for her boyfriend.

I like his choice of character names. They are different and memorable.

The author might want to do more resource on accidents that require opioids. I’ve had concussions from hits to the head and my doctor has never prescribed me opioids. Typically it’s just the normal everyday pain killers. (I let this one slide for suspension of disbelief’s sake.)

They say that people think Alejandro is crazy but that some neighbors respect him...I think we keep on being told something instead of shown so I don’t believe people think Alejandro is crazy since more characters (dead and alive) think highly of him.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mat Davies.
210 reviews7 followers
November 25, 2018
Gumbiner’s debut concerns his protagonist Berg and his attempts to deal with an opioid addiction and get back to something akin to a proper life through a convenient epiphany of boat building. Not much happens plot wise and there are too many coincidences and contrivances for this to be truly transformational but there’s an elegance to the prose and the dialogue is often razor sharp. Part of my problem was that Berg was not that likeable and a bit self absorbed. This, of course, might be the point. Structurally the book is fairly conventional and it’s pretty accessible. It’s the sort of book that critics add to year end lists and you can see why as it ticks lots of boxes critics like being ticked. It’s promising and not without some charm but Gumbiner is probably going to write better things as he blossoms as a novelist.
Profile Image for Thomas Harayda.
81 reviews9 followers
October 2, 2018
This book tries to be many things, mostly in what seems like a pathetic attempt to be attractive to a wide swath of potential readers. In his ambition, Gumbiner fails to make any one of his weighty themes actually relevant or compelling. A longer book might be able to achieve a modicum of success in traversing the gap for relatability between characters, plot, scene, and the reader's actual or expected experience, but thinking this can be done in 235 pages is naive. The fact that this is being long-listed for the National Book Award does nothing for the reputation of that award and can do only harm by hyping a book that should or probably will underwhelm the majority of literary fiction readers.
1,093 reviews12 followers
March 4, 2019
Berg has struggled in his life with drug and alcohol issues and looks to find a job. He ends up finding one with a man who builds custom boats for clients some of which are involved in illegal activities. His boss Alejandro loves his craft and brings some stability to Berg's life. He meets many unique people in the local community. This is a great debut novel with well developed characters and a very realistic slice of life plot.
Profile Image for David W.  Berner.
Author 19 books80 followers
July 17, 2018
This is my favorite read so far for 2018. Magnificent book. It's a wonderful story with a literary sensitivity. Touching, poignant, and at times wonderfully funny. It is filled with humanity. Soooo good!
156 reviews
August 2, 2018
I fell in love with Talinas and these characters, all of them so unassuming. This book recognizes the good in people (with the exception of Billy) and suggests that we're capable of overcoming our greatest demons. It was a compelling read- beautiful on so many levels.
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