In this debut collection of short stories and one novella, a veteran charter boat captain spins yarns about the people who make their livings on the waters around Narragansett, Rhode Island.
In this collection’s titular novella, “Canyon Fever,” Capt. Frank Hardy takes his young and loyal first mate, Ronnie, and two of his longtime clients, the Booth brothers, out into the Northeast Atlantic Canyons on an overnight fishing trip. The trip starts out as an alarming success, with the quartet of experienced fishermen catching tuna after tuna with ease, but unfortunately, it doesn’t end that way. Hardy has been coping with the death of his beloved wife and only child to cancer, but soon he finds his own life in danger when his boat, the Lucky, starts to sink. Stranded on a makeshift raft in the middle of dark waters, the men must work together in order to survive—or be killed by the sharks hungrily circling the raft. “Canyon Fever” is accompanied by several shorter vignettes illustrating brief moments in the lives of others in this ocean-side community, including “Dad’s Wish,” in which a son charters a boat to Block Island to grant his father’s dying request, and “Unforgettable Striper,” in which a man confined to a wheelchair after a devastating injury decides that he needs one more trip out on the water to fish with eels at night. Author Denny is clearly an expert fisherman, and his love for and knowledge of his subject shines through with a warm, golden glow. However, he delivers occasionally clunky prose (“It was wise to seek permission from a lobster captain before you went to the Canyon and make sure you know which end of a high-flier is the right end”). Also, the book is so dense with insider fishing knowledge and terminology that, even with a helpful glossary, it may not appeal to readers who don’t regularly head out on the water. Still, Denny infuses his stories with simple themes of kindness, generosity, and goodwill that should be relatable to all.
An often sweet collection of short stories that will appeal most to fishermen.