What’s It About? In the Wake of the Boatman is a study of family dynamics and sexuality. The narrative concentrates on the life of Puttnum Douglas Steward, born during the middle of World War Two, and immediately considered better off dead than alive by his father. A flustered icon with a bizarre secret, Puttnum becomes the armed forces’ token hero, its soul luminary in the Vietnam era. Racked by guilt and his father’s death, his problems begin to boil, and he flees his life and celebrity in a final attempt to come to terms with himself. There are many characters throughout the book, all of whom make an impact, of some sort, on Puttnum’s. His beautiful sister Mary, a psychologist, understands others better than she understands herself. Her husband, Chester (Survival) Darwin, is the archetypal Hemingway male and the logical person to secede her father as the dominant man in her life. He is the type to swallow tacks to illustrate his hardened nature. His mother, Helen, is a woman of extreme beauty and a weakness for the bottle. Well meaning but misguided, she is an alcoholic with an aristocratic lineage. Puttnum’s father, Carl, is a man confounded by the masculine stereotypes of his time.
Just a note: I drastically shortened the description above because I felt like it just gave away way too much about the book and it was really long. I did this while skimming because I didn’t want to spoil it for me either so if it it seems unclear, or if you would like to read the description in its entirety, click on the book to go to the book description at the Bancroft Press website.
Why This? I wanted to read this book immediately after reading the words “study of family dynamics and sexuality”. I ‘m always interested in books that are exploring relationships and the different types of identities that we struggle to identify, create and maintain. I am also intrigued by the title and who the boatman is etc. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t skim a few pages and I am excited about the writing. It seems rich and lovely so I am looking forward to reading this one. I’ve only met two characters and they have already got me hooked and interested to learn more about them.