CUTTING LOOSE by James Lipscomb


Email this review


It might have been a memorable adventure, giving a 60-foot yacht to five teen-age boys to sail from California to Singapore -- a dream year off, exotic ports of call, responsibility -- with Lipscomb, father of the 18-year-old skipper, and two other adult filmakers along to record it. But it was never really intended to be that uncomplicated -- the voyage was a test, especially for his son, a coming of age for all the boys to be acted out in front of the snooping distortions of a camera. It was a lot to lay on the kids who responded with resentment, tension, rebellion, insecurity -- yet from some strong instinct for survival a few of them actually came through and completed the trip. At one point Lipscomb records ""two down, only three left"" -- but what hangs in the air is "". . .only three left to go."" Using the same cinema verite technique for his book as his film Lipscomb would seem to spread it all bare here, as though the telling of the bizarre and embarrassing even about himself will make the situation disarming, appealing and true. Truth, though, can be selective, and Lipscomb while appearing to be unequivocally honest is evasive. His tog, which gives the boys ample if not equal time to articulate their hostilities, reveals the confrontations, the meetings among the crew, their confusions about what is happening. . .slowly unfolds, on still another deeper more primal level the competition -- between man and boy, aging and young, father and son, with the father, the authority figure, manipulating the outcome. It was a game in which there could be only losers, for as one of Lipscomb's friends was perceptively to note: ""[Your son] can't win. You have put him in a no-win situation."" A deeply disturbing, vexed book, engrossing and depressing more for its avoidance than for its integrity.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1974
Publisher: Little, Brown