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In the Wake of the Boatman Kindle Edition
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It is quite sad to note that the major part of this man's guilt and shame stems from the societal prejudice and internalized transphobic feelings that exist and are directed against such individuals, particularly males, who have so little outlet to express their feminine side. Over the years, I've learned that we remain trapped in the mire of what we cannot communicate. This story is an example of such a stuck and incapacitated fellow, a man who is wallowing in his hidden secrets, creating a fictitious and disingenuous self in an attempt to become a person who is acceptable by society's standards. In so doing, it is impossible for him to see his own heroism and value is a human being as he internalizes his own shameful feelings. The end result is that he manifests severe adjustment difficulties, sabotages his loving relationships, engages in potentially self-destructive behavior and displays secret, guilt-ridden fetishistic transvestism.
In fact, the intensity of the guilt and shame this man experiences is so great he cannot tell anyone, not even his best friend, about the gender dysphoric feelings that are slowly destroying him. He cannot exist in a successful intimate relationship because he is too ashamed of his inner voices. Instead, he contemplates suicide and often escapes into his own fantasy world, where he can become the woman of his dreams, free of the pressures he has created for himself. His only hope is that one day his true self will emerge and he will turn his life around. In the end, I think the author has pointed him in that direction.
Generally, In the Wake of the Batman is beautifully written, filled with lyrical and well-paced prose. At times, however, too many overwrought similes disrupt the flow. This is particularly apparent in the landscape descriptions (e.g., stars in the night sky are "like a light bulb shielded by a colander" and oaks look "like straight, single bristles on the curve of a well-shaven cheek"). Although In the Wake of the Boatman would have benefited from the killing of such darlings, it remains a nuanced and worthwhile portrait of a life struggling towards fulfillment.
That paternal attitude stays with Putt as he does well at his high school studies, but is filled with anger; his arrest affirms his father's opinion that his only male offspring is a loser. The teen obtains an ROTC scholarship to attend the University of Virginia where he has an interlude with his cadet commander, which leaves Putt struggling with his identity. Graduating from college, Putt puts on women's attire; he feels guilt, fear and euphoria. To prove he is a man's man, he volunteers for Viet Nam where he becomes a decorated hero. Back home, he is recruited to infiltrate a stateside Russian espionage ring, afterward the media and the military make him an American hero forcing him to hide even deeper his desire to wear women's clothing. Whereas his father and brother-in-law (another man's man) agree Putt is a loser, his older sister thinks otherwise though she knows something disturbs him turning him angrier and colder.
This is a deep psychological character study in which the relationship between father and son is based on what a man is. Carl feels his son is a wimp in spite of his service record and spy endeavors; though that is a psychological defense mechanism as his offspring accomplishes what he wanted to do. Putt is a fascinating character as he struggles with his unholy desire to wear women's clothing by acting cold. IN THE WAKE OF THE BOATMAN is an intriguing psychological drama that looks deep inside the tormented soul of a man whose solo reason for living is trying to win his father's affection despite decades of failure to achieve his objective.