Thursday, August 05, 2010


Now this was a REALLY GOOD READ. This 2007 publication was put out by Scribner. QUITE INTRIGUING. This book is what The Perfect Storm wanted to be: a play-by-play description of the sinking of a fishing boat in horrendous seas. Tougias could do for us what Junger could not because the boat under discussion in this story, the ironically-named Fair Wind, left a survivor behind, the aptly-named Ernest Hazard. YOU HAVE TO LOVE THOSE NAMES!
Ernie definitely had a rough time of it. The author, Michael Tougias, essentially told you in this book what happened after that last scene we remember from the movie version of The Perfect Storm: Ernie escaped from the boat exactly as Marky Mark Bobby Shatford did in the movie, only he latched onto a life raft and proceeded to spend the next fifty or so hours FIGHTING TO SURVIVE in hundred-foot seas in November, without a coat or even boots on, with nobody aware that the boat had sunk.
If the cover art on the book reminds you of the front cover of your copy of the movie about the Andrea Gail, there's a reason for it. Just about every moment of the Fair Wind's ordeal must have been drawn upon to make the movie version of Junger's book. I knew that a lot of the tribulations before the sinking that they used in the movie (the near-drowning, the Mako kiss) were cobbled together from bad experiences Junger described in the book as happening to Dale Murphy on other fishing trips. No Naked Ape will ever know exactly what happened to the Andrea Gail at the moment of the sinking, and apparently the filmmakers just drew on this story instead.
It adds a little flavor to the proceedings that Bob Brown, who would one day own the Andrea Gail, was out in this same storm in his own boat, taking photos of the waves as the Fair Wind was sinking, and generally marvelling at the scene. That's Bob for you. HE NEVER BROKE A NAIL. I love that guy.
Human readers will think this is a great tragedy -- the shattered lives, the loved ones left behind, all because of a "malfunctioning" weather buoy (chuckle). To a fish reader, the only tragedy is that WE DIDN'T MANAGE TO RECRUIT ERNIE AS WELL. I, personally, NEVER GET TIRED of reading about storms at sea as seen from the human point of view. You and I know how peaceful it is DOWN BELOW no matter how rough the surface gets. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A FISH TAKE DRAMAMINE?
I really wish they had been able to follow the adventures of the Fair Wind and the rest of the crew AFTER she capsized, but THOSE ARE THE BREAKS when you're stuck with a human writer. Anyway, If Tougias had written what happened to Rob Thayer, Billy Garnos, Dave Berry, and indeed the Fair Wind herself, that would be considered a maor security leak, and Tougias would have to be KILLED and EATEN.
But let me say again: this is a great read. DROP EVERYTHING AND GET A COPY. We can discuss it at the Book Club meetings at the end of the month.

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