An antic sea story that explodes midway into bloody action on the North Atlantic, or ""the Western."" The Irish narrator, Patrick O'Connor, who may well be related to the author, is twenty-three in 1940 when he's taken aboard the British merchant ship S. S. Fairwarp as a steward. The Fairwarp is a bucket of bolts whose engines give out at the drop of a saucer. Without a moment's notice, the crew is likely to fred its ship drifting aimlessly for hours or days on end, suddenly rolling and pitching in a gale or presenting itself broadside to an enemy sub or battleship. O'Connor is at his funniest rehearsing the Keaton routine of trying to deliver a mug of tea to the engine room during a full gale while the ship slides down Mont Blanc waves into the valley of death. Then there's the icebound Fairwarp, locked into Halifax harbor for a winter of continuous blizzards, ""Numb. A fridge-ship with you as the meat."" Although O'Connor takes a few chapters to get the engines going, he has written a funny book and the rustheap's last moments will get to you on another level.