Friday, August 28, 2009

Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk

A man claiming to be Christopher Columbus is fished out of the Strait of Gibraltar. He is cared for in a mental hospital in Sevilla, where nurse Consuela takes a special interest in him and listens to his stories. Columbus is eager to get back to his three ships. He tells Consuela about his long quest to fund the risky venture westward and also about the many women he loves in fifteenth century Spain. The anachronisms in his stories -- like telephones, tonic water and billiards -- become expected elements because they are encountered so frequently, yet they add to the puzzle of his identity.

Meanwhile, a French Interpol investigator named Emile Germain is tracking down various missing persons and Columbus may be one of the people he is seeking. Emile has a shadowy past of his own. I really liked the way Trofimuk drew all the threads of his narrative into a satisfying conclusion.

There is a great deal of wine consumed in this book; not only Spanish cava and Pesquera (I remember how wonderfully inexpensive it is to buy good wine in Spain), but bordeaux, pfaelzer, chardonnay, pinot grigio, pinot noir and more. If you are as open to suggestion as I am, you may wish to stock up your cellar before beginning to read.

Trofimuk is a member of Edmonton's Raving Poets Band. His fondness for cigars and the Scottish beverage is apparent in his earlier novels (The 52nd Poem and Doubting Yourself to the Bone) as well as this most recent one.

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