I’m constantly trying to find boat books that Tim hasn’t read. I recently gifted him one that I was certain would be new, but when I caught up with him a few weeks later he didn’t mention it.
“Hey Tim,” I inquired, “how was Voyage of the Cormorant?”
“Oh, I already had a copy,” he replied smartly.
Well, Tim, here’s one I’m certain you haven’t read: Brian Doyle’s The Plover. It isn’t at all a traditional boat narrative; in fact it’s a work of magical realism, a type of fiction that I usually avoid, however this book drew me in.
Mr. Doyle keeps a pretty low on-line profile, but as near as I can tell, he is not a member of the water tribe, yet his description of life aboard a boat paints a familiar scene. The plot follows the protagonist, who decides to head out to sea in a wooden fishing boat solo, and ends up with a crew of misfits who enrich his adventure.
The language is beautiful, the characters pleasantly strange, and the plot more dream-like than a true maritime story. You won’t learn anything about boating from this book. So why am I reviewing it?
Because I’ve never seen an author capture the lazy, enriching, and satisfying nature of a good cruise better. Near the conclusion, Doyle writes:
Those were the moments, years later, that all six of them remember most; early in the morning, walking slowly, untangling and making jokes… sipping coffee, listening to gulls and terns and the lap of the sea, not yet doing anything except delicious nothing. Those were the moments.
Now months after reading the book, I have that same sense of satisfaction and feel that I must get away from this computer and out in my boat.