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 a horny, chain-smoking 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, offering those nuggets—these nibbles of intimacy—in gripping and satisfying ways, even if they took her out of her life unbridled. Even as they are, they are good enough to keep Boulder at bay.
But what happens when her love for Samsa and her yearning for freedom (an already precarious equilibrium for Boulder) collide? After nearly 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 anchors that has been dropped once, and she can’t get her back, 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 began to question her place in Samsa’s life, Blenivine at a local pub. Samsa gives birth to a baby girl, Tina, and Boulder finds himself outside looking inside.
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 trials end Physical proximity to Tina at the same time that Boulder begins to feel trapped in home life – hugging her and feeding her one morning a week when Samsa tries to cram all of her leisure time. Give and dance with her – is evoked. New and weird, and Boulder surrenders to 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