Except for the warm understanding expressed in his characters, there's no family relationship between this novel and A House Of Her Own, published earlier this year. That was about whores- this is about the sea and its ageless lure for men and its story takes on a homeric quality. These are the men of the Merchant Marine, here in tankers full-loaded with highly combustible oil, a cargo which must be ferried through monsoon and tempest across the broad Indian Ocean and the suffocating Gulf of Persia, a route which puts vast distances between delirous stops in outlandish ports. The figure of the Captain, nearing the retirement age of sixty, is the hub of a many-spoked wheel and men from everywhere and nowhere revolve around him. The bos'n who wants desperately to patch up his marriage, the radio operator, rootless and footfree, who enjoys the isolation of the sea; the enigmatic Negro fireman who neither drinks nor smokes and who sends all his pay home to his wife and four kids; the one-eyed electrician who goes berserk miles from port; the Kid who is on his first voyage- all live confined aboard ship for the year's voyage. There's tension and emotional impact, an uncompromising prose, penetration and tenderness and a deep awareness of the hearts and minds of those voyagers which save and lift this from what might have been a sordid sea story. Vigorous and fascinating.