Sunday, September 21, 2014


It's not every day you read a book like THIS one, ladies.  Check it out IF YOU DARE...the ISBN is 978-1582346298.  The author is Jim Lynch.  I am NOT recommending this one for the entire conspiracy readership.  I have too much respect for your feelings.

I picked this one up only because I wanted to know why a never-named character in China Mieville's Kraken nailed this book upside-down to a wall in the Cephalopod Library in the Kraken church.  Sounds like a "tentacles down" vote to me.  My suspicions were deepened further when I learned that the book is a runaway bestseller getting rave reviews from any Shaved Monkey who reads it.  That piece of information made me both more -- AND LESS -- eager to see what was between the covers.

Naturally, the book is, on the surface, a teen coming-of-age story.  (Most runaway bestsellers among the Naked Apes are, whether the teen protagonist is trying out for the football team or being drained by a vampire.)  In this case, the kid at the center of the story (Miles O'Malley) is a dorky redhead so small that he can be mistaken for a third-grader.  But he's a voracious reader completely fixated on what looks to me like Piscatorial Love.  He devours anything he can find about marine biology and worships at the altar of Rachel Carson, and even runs a couple of microbusinesses out of his bedroom, concerned with trafficking OUR OPERATIVES to new recruits.  He also lives on the west coast of the North American Conspiracy Zone -- MY territory -- about halfway between what his species calls the Arctic Circle and the Equator.  The kid spends more time wading than he does walking, as near as I can tell.  SO FAR SO GOOD, RIGHT?

Ordinarily, this would make the kid PRIME RECRUITMENT MATERIAL.  But almost immediately things start to go wrong.  For one thing, he has no particular affinity for any piscatorial species.  I thought for a while he might be a Crab man, but I kept reading and he seemed no less intrigued with the Oarfish, the Anemone, the Kelp...It's all kind of the same to him.  More frighteningly still, he seems equally intrigued with any bit of human flotsam, like a bottle of pop or a hockey glove, he finds rolling in the waves.  He seems to totally miss the fact that they have been rejected by the water as inedible and deposited on shore for him to (gulp) keep in his garage. He "loves" us all, but he loves us with a kind of clinical impartiality that seems to see no real difference between a Sea Pen and a Grunion.  Similarly, the Shaved Monkey critics rave about the author's poetic language, but there's no real poetry here...Just data gathering.  Even the arrival of a Giant Squid, never seen before in that bay, who swims for untold distances only to breathe her last almost in Miles's arms on the beach, leaves NO real impression on the kid.  How can this be!? I thought as I read.  My astonishment deepened when a supposedly even rarer fish washes up...and Miles just sorts of lets that go, too.

And then the worshippers arrive.  A bunch of local weirdoes decide Miles has special powers.  A small army of Russians show up and start dousing themselves in the local mud, claiming it's curing them of this, that and the other.  Scientists in front of news cameras pontificate.   Mediums forecast staggering events.  Miles, the center of it all, is only interested in the girl he loves next door, and the fact that his parents are probably splitting up.  An insight Miles shares with his girlfriend leads to her writing a new song for her band.  A male friend of the protagonist, interested only in his work as an air guitarist, gets hooked on Piscatorial Love because of all the time he spends with Miles, which is good, but you know, it's ACCIDENTAL.  Once Miles gets to be a bit famous as the Amazing Squid Boy, even the kids who used to razz him in the recess yard are lining up to find out more about his central interest.  It slowly becomes clear that Miles does have a sort of special ability to lure and notice and find sea life...

AND MILES WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF IT.  He just wants everyone to leave him alone.

This is what makes The Highest Tide into a sort of I-Have-No-Mouth-And-I-Must-Scream type of horror story.

What I see in this story is one recruiting operative after another just about doing backflips to get his attention.  And he notices.  And then he walks away, unchanged. 

Don't read this one alone, ladies.  It's been giving me nightmares for a week.  I was so very happy when this book finally ended.


Blogger Ur-spo said...

Scary !

4:02 PM  

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