FAR TORTUGA by Peter Matthiessen
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The last voyage of the schooner Lillias Eden: a premise that is also its whole plot and the proof that the boldest writing is also the simplest and most universal. The lines of the story could not be more stark and skeletal (one wants to say classic. . .) or the style over those bones more exotic. Set in the West Indies, where all the races and colors of the world mingle, this is primarily the dialogues among the crew of Captain Raib Avers, set off by descriptive passages as tightly written as stage directions for men, boat, ocean and universe. The typographical layout might be called experimental. Though each of the nine men speaks in just the same musical dialect, they are as distinct and timely etched as any characters in literature. Their relationship, naturally, is subject to the orders of Copm Raib who's the most pigheaded and salty old seaman you'd like to serve with. The turtling season is almost over but Copm Raib has the Eden all over the ""goddomn"" ocean without much success until they've got to sail as far away as mysterious remote Far Tortuga. There, Raib's temper, emotionally heightened by the death of his old father, finally destroys them all -- though not before one last superhuman feat of navigation. This is a sublime work of intense human drama -- wonderful in a very literal sense of the word, lyrical, and it says good things about what humanity is.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1975
ISBN: 0394756673
Publisher: Random House