2011 Reading Series Begins with Thomas Trofimuk and Christopher Columbus
I’m looking forward to picking up a man at the airport next week.
Thomas Trofimuk is flying in from Edmonton to do a reading from his most recent novel, Waiting for Columbus, at the Charles W. Stockey Centre, on Wednesday 20 April.
I read Waiting for Columbus when it was first published in the summer of 2009. When I finished the novel I immediately contacted the author, inviting him to come to Parry Sound to present a reading from his work.
Waiting for Columbus is a novel about a man who believes he is Christopher Columbus. This man was brought into a psychiatric hospital in Seville, Spain after being found in the water in the Strait of Gibraltar – with no identification and insisting that he is Christopher Columbus. Now, of course, we know he is not – but who is he?
The novel is set in the present time – however, in the mind of “Columbus” it is the 1400’s and he is describing to his nurse, Consuela, his efforts to put an expedition together to sail into the unknown sea. Consuela is an expert and experienced nurse, and she knows that however much compassion she has for this particular patient – and the attraction she feels to this man – she must remember always that she is a nurse and he is a patient. Consuela is an intelligent, well-read woman – living alone after divorce - and she becomes increasingly involved in this case.
This novel is extremely funny – as Columbus talks about his 15th century home and life – he is using the remote control for his television. Consuela thinks his story is a “crazy, mish-mashed, time-crossed slip down a rabbit hole. And the teller is, of course, institutionalized”. Truly, the tale that Columbus tells is a wild one – accurate generally to the history of the time of Columbus and the life of that man – but with modern day cell phones and other technology thrown into the mix. In one of the funniest scenes, the phone rings, and Columbus exclaims, “It could be the Queen”, as he is waiting for the approval of Queen Isabella to provide the ships for his expedition. I laughed out loud more than once – while at the same time feeling such concern for this man who, it becomes increasingly clear, is dealing with some sort of trauma.
And it all works – crazy as it is. We actually learn a lot about Spain in the 1490’s, this man really knows his history – delusional or not. It is a crazy mixed up world of watching Westerns on television and experiencing Spain at the time of the Inquisition – with contemporary language coming out of the mouth of Queen Isabella. We easily follow Columbus into the past – and are then jolted back to the present in this crazy mixed-up world he is living in. Another very funny scene has Columbus coming outside after a meeting with the Queen – and he can’t find his car in the parking lot.
We do – thank goodness - eventually discover who this man is. None of us would truly believe he is Christopher Columbus – although it is often tempting.
Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Thomas Trofimuk, the author of Waiting for Columbus at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 20 April at the Charles W. Stockey Centre. If this man is anything near as funny as his novel, come prepared to be entertained!