All of this took, in the end, about four years from the restart. "I'm just a slow writer," Robinson says, who drafts and drafts, "circling around things" before finally zeroing in and getting them right.
First novels are often autobiographical, and Water Dogs has its autobiographical elements — like Bennie, for example, Robinson did a stint in New York City as an art mover — but it doesn't fall into the trap of some Maine literature, which is the tendency to write as if growing up in Maine is itself of enough interest to sustain a story. Robinson isn't Bennie. He's married (to CC) and has a nine-month-old daughter Maisie. He coaches middle-school basketball at Waynflete, and teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program. He is, in short, what Bennie might have been if he hadn't given up.
Water Dogs | by Lewis Robinson | Random House | 240 pages | $25
New baby, restored health, new book: "I'm ready to celebrate this," Robinson says. He's quick to caution that it "isn't the kind of book that's going to appeal to everyone," but Water Dogs has more than enough appeal to make us hope we don't have to wait another six years for its successor.
Alex Irvine can be reached at email@example.com.
LEWIS ROBINSON | Longfellow Books, 1 Monument Way, Portland | January 29 at 7 pm | RiverRun Bookstore, 20 Congress St, Portsmouth, New Hampshire | February 5 at 7 pm | Free
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