Friday, May 29, 2009

Every Boat Turns South by J.P. White

Fortune has sent me several excellent reads from Permanent Press, including Klein’s The History of Now and Brookhouse’s Silence, so something which did not appeal to me was inevitable.

This quick read of mishaps on a voyage from Florida to St. Thomas will most definitely appeal to salty, lusty sailors, but the boat jargon soared over my head.

More trouble, however, came in the form of the narrator’s voice. I had a difficult time visualizing him based the words that came out of his mouth. I guess a character, who thinks the same way he or she talks, is the ultimate villain here.

Another problem involved what I call “over the top” prose. It seemed as if White was struggling to put together colorful, original metaphors, but most of the time they didn’t work for me. When describing Jesse, a prospective cook and deck hand, the narrator describes her feet as having “a full fleet of fire-engine toenails” (19).

Lastly, the story of the mysterious death/disappearance of an older brother, for which the younger brother bears the guilt and approbation of his parents, is an old story becoming more worn out by the day. I didn’t really care about any these characters.

If you like gritty, salty tales of the bounding main, the ports with cheap rum, loose women, and shady deals, then you might like Every Boat Turns South. Me, I’ll take the next flight out. 3 stars.

--Chiron, 5/29/09

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