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Book Review: "Boulder" by Eva Balthazar

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boulder, By Eva Balthazar. Translated by Julia Sanchez.

In Boulder, the second novel in a trilogy that explores women’s lives in first person, Spanish poet and author Eva Baltasar introduces us to a horny, chain-smoker cook who works on a merchant ship off the coast of southern Chile. . The restless protagonist finds tranquility as easily as a stormy sea, but when she gets to know Samsa, the woman who gives her affectionately the nickname “Boulder,” she finds her beloved until it becomes

Boulder abandoned his life at sea and moved into a small apartment in Reykjavik. She moved there after Samsa accepted her job offer. She says Samsa works ten hours a day, but Boulder has trouble adjusting to his routine. Yet the language of desire never stops vibrating off the page. Balthazar pans the mundane for gold and delivers those nuggets – these tidbits of intimacy – in gripping and satisfying ways. , they are enough to make Boulder stay.

But what happens when her love for Samsa and her longing for freedom (an already precarious equilibrium for Boulder) collide? After almost eight years together and approaching 40, Samsa wants a child. I made up my mind.for they having children. For Boulder, this is her one of those once-dropped anchors that can’t be put back on her, but she fears losing Samsa. She “doesn’t tell her that what I want is that I don’t want to be her mother.”

Boulder watches her partner transform into a total stranger while Samsa prepares her body for birth, including vitamins, hormones, injections, blood tests, birthing classes and prenatal water aerobics. She begins to question her own position in Samsa’s life and settles her fears with Brennivin at her local pub. Samsa gives birth to a baby girl, Tina, and Boulder finds himself outside looking inside her.

Being a mother comes naturally to Samsa, but Boulder feels like there’s a can in the back of the newlyweds’ getaway car. I was deported. The emptiness she feels as her boulder begins to engulf her, and eventually she seeks solace with another woman.

Their tryst ends when Boulder begins to feel trapped in home life. At the same time, the physical closeness with Tina — hugging her, feeding her, dancing with her on her mornings during the week when Samsa tries to cram all of her spare time — new Evoking ugliness and strangeness, Boulder surrenders. intimacy. Despite the shifts and disconnects endured by its delightfully complex protagonist, whose anxiety-driven bong motto is sure to kill on Twitter, the novel will strike a chord in your heart. No boulder would plant roots in the space between nouns and verbs. Motherhood has changed Boulder, but she’s not the only one – and therein lies the source of this novel’s charm.

Balthazar, according to Sanchez’s translation, conjures up a version of motherhood that shuns words. Instead, it’s an approximation, seeking to move away from the exact language, from the language learned. Maybe things like love are meant to be difficult to define.

Greg Mania is the author of the memoir Born to Be Public.

boulder, Eva Baltasar | | Translated by Julia Sanches | 112 Pages | More Stories | Paper, $17.95