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Waiting for Columbus Hardcover – August 25, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Andrew Davidson Reviews Waiting for Columbus

Andrew Davidson’s debut novel, The Gargoyle, was published in August 2008. It was one of Amazon.com’s “Best Books of 2008” and was Amazon.co.uk’s “Rising Star” for Autumn 2008. In addition to being a New York Times bestseller, The Gargoyle is being translated into twenty-nine languages. Read Davidson's exclusive Amazon guest review of Waiting for Columbus:

I hate Thomas Trofimuk.

I’m sure this sounds a tad extreme, especially since I’ve never met the man. Mr. Trofimuk could very well be a perfectly charming individual--kind to animals and small children--but I don’t care. I hate him in the small-hearted way that only writers (and perhaps actors) hate another: with a mixture of jealousy and miserable respect, hidden behind giant fake smiles. For the record, I should clarify that I don’t hate all writers, only those who produce books like Waiting for Columbus, which is exactly the worst kind of novel: fantastic, and written by someone other than me.

There are three reasons, specifically, that Columbus causes pain in my soul. First, because I wish I’d written it. Second, because I fear that Trofimuk has stolen all the good words. Third, because he tricked me. You see, normally I dissect novels rather than actually read them; I pull out the story’s entrails and comb through them inch-by-intestinal-inch, because anything I learn, I can steal. But Trofimuk made me forget my larcenous ways, and forced me to rush headlong through his story, reading it simply for pleasure. I’m a writer, goddamn it; I don’t do anything for pleasure!

If you give him the chance, prospective reader, Trofimuk will use his sorcery on you, too. He’ll steal precious hours from your life, which could be used for riding horses or volunteering for charity. He’ll make you ignore your family, and possibly even forget to feed your children. Worst of all, he’ll set you up with all these little details that you think are simply nice touches in the story, but are actually landmines planted in your subconscious, waiting to explode with pathos and beauty when you least expect it.

So go ahead. Let Trofimuk steal your time and explode your head. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. --Andrew Davidson

From Publishers Weekly

Canadian writer Trofimuk's uneven novel begins with an inspired premise: a man claiming to be Christopher Columbus shows up at an insane asylum in contemporary Spain. Under the care of a nurse named Consuela, he begins to tell stories of Columbus's adventures, remembering some and reliving others. It is interesting enough at first, but the blending of then and now gets tiresome and hokey (as when, after strenuous intercourse, Columbus watches TV). Also, Columbus is a voracious lover who speaks in purple prose about how much he loves women. The women, real and imagined, likewise find him irresistible. (Indeed, even Consuela falls hard for Columbus.) Meanwhile, Interpol declares the mystery man officially suspicious and dispatches an agent specializing in cold trails to track him down. Trofimuk never quite pulls together a cohesive narrative; the imaginings of a mentally unwell man hold some promise, but too many developments are murky and inexplicable. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,748,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I sent in for this book, I was intrigued by the premise of the mysterious man washing up on the shores of Spain after swimming/floating in the Strait of Gibraltar thinking he's Christopher Columbus. Columbus is then admitted to a local mental institution in Seville, Spain and no one quite knows just how in the world he ended in the middle of the ocean or why he has this entrenched belief that he is in fact Christopher Columbus from over 500 years ago. A dark and mysterious set of events is implied as the cause of this seemingly normal man creating this fictitious personality/cover up as a coping device. Just what is it though? It is the job of Nurse Consuela, an employee of the Seville Mental Institution to listen to Columbus' recounting of his journey to discover the New World and the perils he faced on the way there.

Some additional clues are also provided that Columbus is not your standard run-of-the-mill mental patient either as the International Police (Interpol) are looking for a man that has been missing for months after a horrifying event took place in Spain just months prior to his disappearance and disconnect with reality. Could it be the same man?

That's the essential plot of Waiting for Columbus, but on a personal level it went much deeper. There is so much loss and sorrow in Columbus and by the end of the novel, the reader finds out just who Columbus really is and what caused him to become Columbus. It's also a story of great inspiration as Columbus through all the sorrow and pain he has experienced ends up finding out that life is indeed worth living and goes through hell and back to really figure that out.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Description from Shelfari: A man arrives at an insane asylum in contemporary Spain claiming to be the legendary navigator Christopher Columbus. Who he really is, and the events that led him to break with reality, lie at the center of this novel. Found in the treacherous Strait of Gibraltar, the mysterious man who calls himself Columbus appears to be just another delirious mental patient, until he begins to tell the "true" story of how he famously obtained three ships from Spanish royalty. It's Nurse Consuela who listens to these fantastical tales of adventure and romance and tries desperately to make sense of why this seemingly intelligent man has been locked up, and why no one has come to visit. As splintered fragments of the man beneath the facade reveal a charming yet guarded individual, Nurse Consuela can't avoid the inappropriate longings she begins to feel. Something terrible caused his break with reality, and she can only listen and wait as Columbus spins his tale to the very end.

My Thoughts

The closest analogy I can come up with to describe this book is watching a photograph develop in a darkroom. At first, you see nothing but a few shades of gray here and there. Then the borders come into focus. Then the full picture begins to fill in ... becoming clearer and clearer until you are looking at the fully formed photograph.

In this book, the "photograph" being developed is the man claiming to be Christopher Columbus. Of course, since it is 2004, we know he isn't the real Christopher Columbus. But who is he and why is he claiming to be Columbus? We join Nurse Consuela in listening to Columbus's fanciful and detailed accounts of his adventures.
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Format: Audio CD
The audio version of this book is read by Grover Gardner who did a wonderful job with this novel.
At first I was not sure what to make of this unusual novel.

An unknown man is pulled from the Strait of Gibraltar, and when he wakes up, he finds himself in the Sevilla Institute for the Mentally Ill. The year is 2005, and the man claims to be Christopher Columbus. To his lonely nurse, Consuela Lopez, and the psychiatric staff, the man who claims to be Christopher Columbus, details stories of his conquests including tales about the women he has loved.

His stories move from the 15th century, rich in period details to the present day. Quite frankly, some of the details he reports to the staff, clearly seem to be of a man who has lost touch with reality. He is obviously an intelligent man, and it is not long before nurse Consuela, who listens to his stories of love and adventure, day after day, begins to fall for this mystery man. There is a puzzle to piece together here, and as a reader you will probably be wondering, like I did, why is an Interpol agent from France is traveling to Spain looking for a mystery man, and possible assailant--is there a tie?

MY THOUGHTS - Boy, can this author can write. The prose is simply beautiful, and for that very reason, I wish I had the print version instead of the audio book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the audio book, however, the writing is the rare style made me wish I could savor some of the passages over and over again. With the audio version it was also hard to distinguish between some of the narratives, and there were times that I felt I should just stop, and try to get the book from the library instead. I did not give up, as this book drew me in, and I was anxious to unravel the mystery.
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