cover image Boulder


Eva Baltasar, trans. from the Catalan by Julia Sanches. And Other Stories, $17.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-913505-38-7

Poet and novelist Baltasar (Permafrost) returns with a sinewy if somewhat predictable story about a tempestuous relationship between two women. The freewheeling narrator is working as a cook on a passenger freighter when, upon docking in a Chilean town, she meets and falls for a Scandinavian geologist named Samsa, who nicknames her “Boulder,” after those “large, solitary rocks” of unknown provenance. Theirs is an affair of stolen moments until Samsa accepts a job in Reykjavik. Despite Boulder’s hesitance to settle down—“The short term can tether you to the world of senses,” she narrates—she accompanies her new love to Iceland. Years pass in relative harmony, with Boulder owning and operating a food truck, but nearing 40, Samsa wants to have a baby. This decision divides the couple, and for Boulder, Samsa’s eventual pregnancy elicits a mix of jealousy, reverence, and revulsion. Baltasar offers a great deal of insight into the effect of the pregnancy and the child’s birth on the characters, though the plot turns on tropes. Frustrated by their sexlessness, for instance—which Boulder compares to a “dockyard gridlocked by a single ship”—she cheats with a younger woman. Still, this slim, visceral novel power gains power from its subversive blurring of maternal intuition and its queering of parenthood. (Aug.)