A fishing trip turns into a very bad day in this dramatic though less fraught rejoinder to The Perfect Storm.
When he fell from Anna Mary, his lobster boat, into the sea—the result, as he ruefully notes, of an avoidable bad idea—Aldridge writes that he spent some of his time in the water pondering the “if-onlys and I-should-have-dones that would have kept me from going overboard.” The rest of the time he spent pondering how to keep from falling asleep and slipping into oblivion while trying to gain a fix on where he was in the water. A skilled seaman, he did so, and his knowledge as much as his strength and good physical condition was responsible for keeping him alive for the hours he was in the water. Meanwhile, as his shipmate Sosinski writes, the crew of the Anna Mary and the Coast Guard used knowledge of their own to locate that lone swimmer in the vastness of the waters off New England. Recounting a real event that took place nearly four years ago, the partners’ narrative has its predictable moments, just as one might expect: the regrets, those what-ifs, etc. But, though by-the-numbers in spots, this book has several virtues. For one, like Peter Matthiessen’s Men’s Lives, it is a robust portrait of working-class Montauk, the Long Island community in the shadow of the tony Hamptons that always seems to be in danger of being crowded into the sea. “The real Montauk is about the fishing,” they write. “It always was.” For another, the authors offer a richly detailed but not overburdened view of how sea rescue operations are mounted and conducted: there are probabilities and formulas involved but also gut instinct and lots of experience in play.
A capable and readable book, though the story is likely to draw its true audience by way of the forthcoming movie it ties into.