Although I’ve been neither lost nor officially “at sea” since my last post, I’ve recently returned from a month away from city life, with 24/7 ocean views of sand, sea, sail, and sky. I watched the island-studded ocean, read, ate, read, walked, read, slept, read, ate, wrote a tiny bit, did touristy stuff, figured out a plot point for my WIP, and then read some more: 14 books in 29 days (not counting the 2 I abandoned).
Because I was at the shore, I didn’t do much reading for my year-long Melville project, choosing instead to race through 5 Agatha Christies, Jasper Fforde’s Last Dragonslayer trilogy, and a virtual stack of other fiction and non-fiction e-books via the NYPL.
However, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of short sea-faring books.
One: Margaret Wise Brown’s The Little Fisherman, illustrated by Dahlov Ipcar (1945/2016), is the story of two fishermen, one “great big” and the other “little” (in the illustrations, the little fisherman barely tops the big fisherman’s belt, and that’s with hat and sea boots on). Wise profiles their typical day — setting off in their big or little boats, using big or little nets, catching big or little fish — and so on. The story is perfect for reading aloud (and the repetition very much like Brown’s more famous Goodnight, Moon). Ipcar uses bold, bright colors, her illustrations full of ships, seabirds, fish, and all the paraphernalia of a fisherman’s life. There’s plenty to look at on every page.
Two: Sharon Creech’s The Wanderer (2000). I reviewed this book 5 years ago (you can find that review here), so I won’t say much about it now. But I do want to note that 13-year-old Sophie, the protagonist, is someone who would eat up every page of Moby-Dick. I suspect she’ll have her maiden voyage aboard the Pequod before her 15th birthday.
The first words of The Wanderer, from Sophie’s journal, are
The sea, the sea, the sea. It rolled and rolled and called to me. Come in, it said, come in.
I heard that call for a month, even (perhaps especially) when fogged in. I can’t explain what draws certain people to the sea, but I certainly am one of them. Whenever I imagine living someplace other than NYC (where seagulls vie with pigeons for the best rubbish-pickings), it’s always near the sea.
Let me always be near the sea, the sea, the sea.
Note: I also finished a hefty collection of Robertson Davies’ letters, my review of which will appear on Lory’s Emerald City Book Review blog. Guest bloggers will join Lory in a celebration of Davies’ life, in honor of his 106th birthday. If you’re curious about Robertson Davies — who he was, what he wrote — the week-long party runs 25-31 August, and I can guarantee you’ll be inspired to give one of his novels a try. So keep an eye on ECBR for updates.