Fink, Bradley: Sketches of a Young Man Wandering
Jonathon Levy 10:02, 8 November 2008 (EST)
Bradley Fink’s Sketches of a Young Man Wandering
Of all the books that I have read recently this one was my favorite. It reminded me of Life of Pi just because of the author's simple writing style, but really it is more like a Kerouac story, an On the Road that takes us all over the world, rather than just driving across the United States. Bradley Fink’s use of rhythm makes his writing flow so easily that the reader just zips right through it.
The book is written as four unrelated stories, though each gives us telling glimpses into the author's mind. First, in Where the Sun Beats, we see two young boys who go fishing on the Florida Everglades, only to find that their fishing hole has dried up, perhaps due to the recent construction of a highway. The author sets a slow, southern tone with his use of imagery and dialogue, and is somewhat reminiscent of William Faulkner. The second story, In Strange Eruptions, was not as good as the first, but again the story flows well and it was also an enjoyable read.
In the title story we see the author as a young man who goes off from Florida to travel the world. This is written in the form of journal entries over a two year period, during which the narrator finds himself in a fishing village near Vancouver, Canada, where he surfs for two months with a girl that he meets there. This first chapter is something of an introduction to the narrator, not through any description or plot, really, but through his personal thoughts, which we see as his "sketches" as he puts them down on the page.
After Canada the author goes backpacking through Argentina and Peru, back to America for some R&R, over to Portugal, Spain, and Morocco, and finally through some of the lesser known countries in Africa. While at first glance we get the impression of a travel diary, the story is much more of a journey into the author’s soul, and a love story for what he sees as a beautiful and (at times) confusing world. Again it is the style of writing, the rhythm and the simplicity of it, that kept me turning every page.
I was recommended this book by a friend and we both bought it at http://www.goodbookgroup.com . I haven’t seen it in Barnes and Noble yet but my order was shipped pretty quickly.