Tuesday, June 29, 2010



This is Richard Fernicola, M.D.'s highly-detailed exploration of the 1916 Shark attacks along the Jersey Shore. Copyrighted 2001 and published by Lyons Press.

I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO RECOMMEND THIS OR NOT. It's so -- I don't know -- HUMAN. The author travels from pillar to post and goes back almost a hundred years in time to collect every detail he can possibly scrape up on the Shark attacks of that dim, dead year. Yes, it's essentially the same book as Close To Shore, but less literary and much more data-driven.

In most ways the two books are so much alike I wonder why both of them bothered. I have to say, Fernicola's came out first, so it probably has that elusive quality known among humans as "DIBS." It is also a lot more detailed and MUCH better-researched.

But the total outcome of all that effort is sort of "meh" as far as I'm concerned. The writing is uneven. The author starts to make a point, then apparently forgets about it, then starts to zoom in again, then changes the subject entirely. The copyediting borders on the surreal. Ultimately, he DOES reveal his conclusions, AND ARE THEY EVER WRONG. The nicest part of this book is knowing that even after YEARS of careful investigation by this guy, OUR SECRETS ARE QUITE SAFE.

Feel free to read this one. I can take it or leave it, myself.

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