Booklist over ‘Rivers’

Dutch theater director, translator, and writer Driessen scales the depths and sounds of distinct perspectives on several European waterways in this peculiar and alarming set of three stories. To detox from years of alcohol abuse and to train for his next role, an actor makes a solo canoe trek down the France’s Aisne River, only to encounter his own temperament at its worst and nature’s violence. An homage to the logging industry that has flourished along the Rhine for generations marks the book’s middle portion, as Driessen follows a pair of lifelong workmates as they ride a long log barge to the North Sea, and details their lives and the industry in transition. Finally, a centuries-spanning dispute over land between two families—one Catholic, the other Huguenot—finds a fulcrum in an unspectacular, unnamed creek. Told from multiple viewpoints as the families unearth past wrongs and regrets, this tale reveals different aspects of the conflict. Driessen’s noteworthy collection displays humanity at its best and worst in relation to the waters his characters depend on for their lives, as we all are sustained by the earth’s rivers and streams.