Unboxing Raymond - Book Review


Unboxing Raymond

Author: Len Boswell
Genre: Non Fiction - Memoir
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: June 2, 2022
ISBN-10: 9781684339488
ISBN-13: 9781684339488


Book Review of :  Unboxing Raymond


Len Boswell, the author of Unboxing Raymond, is an award-winning author of several novels, including the Simon Grave Mysteries. In this narrative, Boswell recollects memories of his emotionally abusive, estranged father, Raymond. Boswell’s curiosity was stirred when he received a box from his late sister’s estate. As a result, he put aside his anger and opened his heart.

The small, unpretentious box was tagged with a note, “Ray Boswell’s Treasure Box.” Despite his disdain for his father, his inquisitiveness prevailed, and he reluctantly began to withdraw items from the box. At first, the large collection of jumbled, unrelated items seemed unremarkable, not any sort of a treasure. However, as he removed the items one at a time, his memories were awakened to the family stories of his father’s childhood growing up in the 1930s in Washington, D.C. 

He examines each item and writes the stories it gives birth to. Some are humorous. Some are tragic, but all reveal something about the personalities of the author as well as his father, Raymond. The result is an exquisite balance of blistering candor and healing grace. 

Raymond made a lower middle class living as a free-lance upholsterer. The author was often an unwilling laborer for his overbearing father. Many of the articles in the box are things that Boswell recognized as gleanings from the crevices of the couches and over-stuffed chairs that his father reupholstered. Raymond called himself a furniture archeologist. The odd bits retrieved from mining the furnishings became the seed of other stories. In his unique and engaging voice, Len Boswell shares the emotional story of his complicated relationship with his father and the deeply buried secrets that shaped his life. 

Boswell felt that he was unwanted and unloved by his father as a son. From the age of two, his father was like a demon drill sergeant, getting in his face with no positive interaction. It never stopped until he escaped to college. While digging through the box and analyzing the contents, Boswell began to understand his father’s emotional problems and personality, as well as his own. Boswell’s life masks a painful childhood growing up under the heavy rule of an emotionally abusive father. It was a relationship that tormented him long into adulthood. 

With a bit of humor, pathos, wit, and incredible insight, Boswell seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood and his life with his father. At times suspenseful, deeply moving, and even heartbreaking. Unboxing Raymond is an astute, well-observed, and moving portrait of the tensions between a father and son. 

Reviewed by: Carole W

About Len Boswell


I was born in a hospital that has since been torn down, grew up on a street that has since changed its name, in a house that has since changed its number. Everywhere around me my life seems to be erasing itself. Before the eraser wears out and rips through the paper of my life, I spend my days writing furiously against the darkness. As grim as that sounds, my books tend toward the humorous. In fact, not reading my books could put you seriously out of touch with frivolity.

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