HOW THE FISHES LIVE by Joel Lieber

HOW THE FISHES LIVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Big fish eat the little fish is Perhaps the clearest example of cannibalism in the natural orders (but since the fish usually don't eat their own kind, the example becomes faulty). In How the Fishes Live. Joel Lieber works up a world furor and lengthy court trial over an act of cannibalism in an open boat on the high seas. A handful of international characters survive the sinking of a liner and 21 days exposure to the elements only by killing one of their older members and eating him. The novel divides evenly between a close study of the tensions leading up to the harrowing event, and the court trial of the two men who did the actual murder. Necessarily, the trial repeats nearly everything that went on in the story's first half, and since the reader is already familiar with the points of view involved, the trial is less interesting than the man against nature theme. The characters are stock figures in this morality-melodrama. To the author's credit, although his sympathies' are clearly with his leading characters, he presents the position of society so well that the reader is left with a Lady or the Tiger choice as to whether the murder should have taken place. There isn't a memorable sentence in the book, but the vexing moral center of the story does keep the reader plugging away.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1967
Publisher: McKay