ALONE by Gerard d'Aboville

ALONE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 D'Aboville, who rowed across the Atlantic in 1980, proves that the age of adventure is still upon us--as he now rows across the Pacific in a 26-foot craft, ``alone, alone, alone.'' Skip the first third of the text, which is filler: d'Aboville deciding on his mission, rounding up sponsors, working the press. The action begins on July 11, 1991, when the author, 45, begins his 134-day journey from Choisi, Japan, to Ilwaco, Washington. Soon enough, the ``terrifying and terrible'' ordeal begins: Rowing 12 hours daily across 6300 miles of ocean through blistering heat and freezing cold (he sets out in midsummer but takes his last stroke on November 21). D'Aboville chats with friends and family via radio and telex, but his overriding emotion is loneliness. Brief animal encounters--with a mosquito, a dragonfly, a school of dolphin--take on major importance. His craft capsizes 35 times, often at night, leaving him upside down in a pitch-black, closed cabin with sea water rushing in. He lurches his way through two typhoons, breaks two ribs and a finger, smashes his nose. The Pacific proves to be ``dull, gloomy, and sullen,'' so unlike the ``sparkling, glossy'' Atlantic. Doubts sprout, flourish, and nearly overwhelm him, but he never slacks off in his daily chores: One stroke cut from the prescribed quota will, he believes, lead to collapse down the road. D'Aboville never quite explains why he does what he does, but as he reports on his deteriorating state--``a night of complete horror''; ``fear is now part and parcel of my body''--the impression of enormous stubbornness, shading into superhuman bravery and fortitude, grows. ``I am a resistance fighter in a war I invented for myself,'' he says, and by journey's end, he's won, in the eyes of readers, both Purple Heart and Medal of Honor. Not up to its namesake (Richard Byrd's classic tale of Antarctic survival) but, still, a memorable tale of salt-drenched fortitude. (Sixteen pages of color photos--not seen)

Pub Date: July 11th, 1993
ISBN: 1-55970-218-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993