WHAT SHIP, WHERE BOUND? by Shepard Rifkin


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The ship is the Felicidad, with a one way supply of fuel oil, bound for Palestine and the British blockade with a hull-full of refugees. The organizers seem corrupt from ""The Cigar"" on down, and the crew, assembled on the Brooklyn docks, have joined the venture for many reasons, rarely noble ones. They bicker, curse, steal from one another, and utter bizarre to obscene epithets. They stumble for the cathouses or bring their women on board to live a domestic dockside idyll as in Port de Sud. More than half the novel goes by before they are at sea, becalmed with engine trouble. Shortly the British destroyers are signalling politely that the Felicidad will be arrested if she sails into Palestine territorial waters. She does and is. After punching a Limey paratrooper who mistreats a female refugee, one of the Felicidad's heroes feels almost ecstatic and on that bubbling note the book ends. Somewhere in the story someone says: ""What's eating you is that there's no dignity here."" The rejoinder- ""Life is a farce""- must be the theme. But given the interesting material and a more incisive point of view, a more effective and moving novel might have resulted.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1961
Publisher: Knopf