At 28 years old, Eli "Berg" Koenigsberg has never encountered a challenge he couldn't push through, until a head injury leaves him with lingering headaches and a weakness for opiates. Berg moves to a remote Northern California town, seeking space and time to recover, but soon finds himself breaking into homes in search of pills. Addled by addiction and chronic pain, Berg meets Alejandro, a reclusive, master boatbuilder, and begins to see a path forward. Alejandro offers Berg honest labor, but more than this, he offers him a new approach to his suffering, a template for survival amid intense pain. Nurtured by his friendship with Alejandro and aided, too, by the comradeship of many in Talinas, Berg begins to return to himself. Written in gleaming prose, this is a story about resilience, community, and what it takes to win back your soul.
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The simple tragedy of addiction and the luck and love required to find a way back are woven together against the backdrop of the magical coastal northwest. All ex addicts and those contemplating life’s purpose will recognize the metaphor of boatbuilding as meditation and presence. Our 28 year old protagonist, Berg, struggles to find his footing, with the support of Alejandro Vega, a master craftsman/boatbuilder and philosopher, and his family.
Mixed with a bit of drug dealing drama, the charming vocabulary of boat construction, a sometimes romance, and a myriad of the often hilarious townspeople that flow thru Berg’s life, The Boatbuilder is enjoyable, warm and life affirming. A great way to spend a few hours.
Best line “Much courage is required of the once defeated”
you might want to start building boats after reading this. or maybe plant a garden or at least go for a walk.