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No . . . this site is NOT transforming into a book emporium. But I can make some recommendations, good reading whether you’re on the water, at the beach, or in a house . . . The last time I revealed this much about my bookshelf was in 2007 here and here.
Numero uno: A “must read” We the Drowned . . . I guarantee it’ll be the most enthralling and fastest 675-page novel you’ve ever read. Read a review here. I’ll even send my copy once a few more friends have read it; my copy was sent to me by Les Sonnenmark, a frequent commenter here. It’s a saga of 100 years of lives of folks whose starting point is a Danish Baltic Sea island town called Marstal featuring naval prisoners of war, St. Peter’s triage style, mariners by sail and steam and diesel, Samoa, Greenland, Captain Cook’s shrunken head, haunting red lights (and more) for a character who survives World War II aboard convoy after convoy in and out of Murmansk, and some poignant stories of loves lost and long deferred. This is a story of resurrections. Hear an interview with the author, Casten Jensen, here. Read an interview focusing on storytelling craft here.
Unrelated: can you identify the sailing and diesel vessels here? Identification to all will be at the end of the post.
Second suggestion: Fire on the Horizon (267 pages) by gCaptain‘s very own John Konrad, with Tom Shroder. This book walks you minute by minute through the last days of Deepwater Horizon, with compassion for the crew and their families. You will learn much about a drillship, of which many exist today. Konrad and Shroder tease out responsibilities of BP, TransOcean, and Halliburton. I hadn’t known until reading this book of John Konrad’s unique qualifications to write this book: he learned of the blowout while in the Southern Ocean, delivering a similar Korean rig called Deepwater Ascension from Korea to the Gulf of Mexico; moreover, he knew some crew aboard Deepwater Horizon. Konrad shows his knack for telling a tragic story quite well, throwing in compelling backstory along the way. In the first 50 pages alone, you’ll learn something about offshore drilling in 1896, SUNY Maritime, and the Hyundai shipyard in Ulsan, Korea. In our age of petroleum and time of peak oil, this book will leave you with greater understanding.
Third suggestion: Also related to the blow-out of last summer, A Sea in Flames, (352 pages) by Carl Safina. In the preface, Carl Safina calls this “a record of a technological event . . . a chronicle of a season of anguish . . .” It’s an informal book in which Safina records his observations and vents. He, like Konrad and Shroder, makes the arcane world of deepwater drilling understandable and interesting to the layperson; in the first 50 pages, you learn about the decisions made throughout the six months of drilling at Macondo, which he compares to a “high risk pregnancy.” Safina’s voice evidences his ecology background (Ph. D. from Rutgers and President of the Blue Ocean Institute), and he’s clearly fuming, incensed; he reports statements from officials from BP and government agencies and then (as if we were watching or listening to some broadcast news with him) we hear his reactions . . . be they sarcasm or refutation. He acknowledges his anger, though: e.g., “I am not impressed with the Coast Guard so far. Admiral Thad Allen becomes to me a one-dimensional talking head: the Thadmiral. Does he deserve to be a caricature? Of course not; does anyone? But in my anger, that’s what happens” (96). And he’s particularly angry about private security guards interdicting the public from . . . public parks . . . when they are officially open (207-10). Ultimately, near the end of the book, Safina reports on having coffee with Allen and another of the caricature’s in the book, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator; here . . Safina listens and in his reportage, transforms what had been one-dimensional into nuanced people. And I admire that. Read the book.
I’d love to hear your reading suggestions . . . in part because I’m fishing for my next book. I always can fall back on rereading the standards by Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Farley Mowat, or Jan deHartog . . . but would rather have my horizons expanded.
Otherwise, in summer the temperature makes it a whole lot more comfortable than winter to just while away some hours doing the Otis Redding thing . . .
All fotos by Will Van Dorp in the past two weeks.
Oh . . . right . . . here’s another review.