Monday, October 18, 2010

All Fisherman are Liars: True Adventures at Sea

All Fisherman are Liars: True Adventures at Sea Review

"Every date and detail and description is accurate and completely well grounded in fact. Honest." - Author Linda Greenlaw on the tales in ALL FISHERMEN ARE LIARS

Linda Greenlaw, the sometime Maine swordfish-boat captain and lobster trawler, who's entertained armchair seagoing fishers with The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey and The Lobster Chronicles : Life On a Very Small Island, breaks new personal ground with this anthology of salty tales ostensibly remembered from one session of yarn spinning at the Dry Dock Restaurant and Tavern in Portland, Maine, which, as Linda states, is one of her favorite watering holes and really does exist (though, according to reviews of the place on the Web, it emphatically doesn't appeal to everyone).

As with any collection of stories based on a profession, whether it's penned by a cabdriver, airline attendant, neurosurgeon, golfer, madam, rodeo rider, astrophysicist, hockey player, test pilot or chef, the reader must have some threshold of interest in the subject or all is lost. Personally, I couldn't care less about hockey, golf or the rodeo circuit. On the other hand, I once found a cabby's workplace stories (No Guns, No Knives, No Personal Checks: The Tales of a San Francisco Cab Driver), which I wouldn't have otherwise read unless urged to do so, surprisingly good. In the case of ALL FISHERMEN ARE LIARS, I used to ocean fish when I was a kid and I find the on-deck assault of marine air across a moving vessel exhilarating, so the potential was there to be entertained. If the prospects of fish as food and water deeper than your bath make you queasy, then perhaps it's best to pass.

In my experience, it's unusual to come upon a five-star compendium of short stories because the inclusions may individually run the gamut from awful to mediocre to quite good. Linda's collection happily avoids the low end. Since all are at least minimally interesting, and Greenlaw herself is personable and congenial, four stars are due.

Vicarious danger thrills. Thus, the chapters "Seamanship" and "Running Out Your Time" are perhaps the best, both involving storms at sea that endanger Linda herself in the former and an acquaintance in the latter. Conversely, the chapter "Navigation", in which Greenlaw's two young nephews learn valuable lessons on a day spent fishing with Dad, was a little too cute for my tastes. The rest fall somewhere in between and, despite the book's title, none are so outrageous as to be unbelievable. Well, maybe the tale about the steamship Royal Tar is a bit tall.

By the end of the author's last book, THE LOBSTER CHRONICLES, she seemed fretful of the fact that, then at 40, she remained unmarried and without children. Her loneliness was uncomfortably evident. ("I have spent much time waiting for Mr. Right, who does not appear to be looking for me.") In ALL FISHERMEN ARE LIARS, she seems to have perked up a bit.

Sail on, Linda, into fair weather and calm seas.

All Fisherman are Liars: True Adventures at Sea Overview

inda Greenlaw, the New York Times bestselling author of The Lobster Chronicles and The Hungry Ocean, brings us a riveting and uproarious collection of tales of fishing and adventure at sea.

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