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Van Den Brink, H.M. On the water.

Grove Press, dist. by Publishers Group West. 134p. c1998. 0-8021-3895-0. $11.00. A

Since he was a toddler, Anton has been obsessed with the river that divides rich from poor in Amsterdam. In the winter of 1944, he nostalgically recalls his time on the water in a different world. In 1938, 16-year-old Anton had crossed class boundaries by joining the rowing club. Anton and David, another boy in the rowing club, were selected for special training a few months later. Over the next year and a half, Anton focused all of his energy on the sensual appeals of rowing, David, and his own strengthening body. The other trivia of Anton's life, such as his office job, were "necessary but not significant." Against all expectation, Anton and David won every competition they entered. They set their sights on the championship and the coming Olympics in Finland.

The 1940 Olympic games, of course, would never happen. As Anton wanders about the river at the war's end, David and the rowing club are both gone. Anton remembers his time rowing with such physical sensuality--rich in detail though spare in dialogue--that his memories gain a reality of their own: "No one can convince me that you can't touch happiness, that there is such a thing as happiness without a body."

Deborah Kaplan. Arlington, MA
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Author:Kaplan, Deborah
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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