Greenlaw (Fisherman’s Bend, 2007, etc.) returns to the Grand Banks in search of swordfish.
Writing bestsellers and pulling lobster traps out of the bay off her island home in Maine couldn’t “fill the void left in the absence of true, hardy, saltwater adventure,” so when opportunity knocked to skipper a swordfishing longliner to the blue water, Greenlaw jumped. She landed on the Seahawk, a vessel of such rank dilapidation the crew soon rechristened it the Shithawk. The crew also had varying degrees of mechanical problems—kidney stones, a severed thumb—but the author draws them affectionately as a stalwart bunch, who gravitate toward museums and Internet cafes during shore time. It’s a pleasure to be out once more on the water with Greenlaw, like hooking up again with a favorite fishing guide. Readers may have heard a few of the stories before, but the author is such an unvarnished old hand, they’re fun even in the retelling. Who can tire of sharks gnashing and thrashing around on a confined deck, or the rhythmic beauty of laying out 30 miles of line baited with 800 hooks, or heavy weather on a small boat in the big blue? The dialogue can be wooden at times, and there is a certain ripeness to some of the passages—“the diving night splashed light onto the opposite horizon, which swam like spawning salmon up the riverlike sky”—but Greenlaw speaks with unquestionable authority when fashioning the salty atmosphere of swordfishing life.
A vanishing slice of life caught with ardor and freshness.