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The Hungry Ocean

Jan 1, 2003

The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey by Linda Greenlaw One of the many charms of Linda Greenlaw's first attempt at the writing life is her ability to transport the reader into her head and aboard her longlining swordboat Hannah Boden. This is the most engaging and accurate book about fishing in recent memory, evoking images of Kipling's Captains Courageous and Moby Dick (excepting that Greenlaw's book is thoroughly nonfiction). Like all fine adventure writing, The Hungry Ocean makes the reader yearn to be among the characters despite the danger, the back-to-back 20-hour work days, and the discomfort of being surrounded by fish gurry and ill-tempered crew. Greenlaw, who is one of the characters portrayed in Sebastian Junger's best-seller The Perfect Storm (W.W. Norton, 1997), builds the book around one voyage and regresses into "mug-ups," related stories that help round out the story line. Her story is at once a technical description of life at sea and a tragicomedy of oddball characters. She effectively avoids the things-ain't-what-they-used-to-be approach (so common in stories about fishing and the sea) and lets the circumstances speak for themselves. 212-633-4400; $22.95; 265 pages.