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on natural interest and experience. I appreciate the realism of White Crosses. Watson surprises us with details that add dimension to his protagonist. The weakness of this novel is also its strength. It presents a compelling psychological portrait of one man, but somewhat to the detriment of the rest of his characters . I would have enjoyed more occasions of leaving the musty confines of the sheriff's ruminations, which have an air of doom from the start, and learning more about the people of Bentrock. (SM) Reviews by: Evelyn Somers, Hugh Rozelle, Kris Somerville, John Byrne, Beth Farrow, John Dyer Fort, Seth Bro, Speer Morgan , Michael Byers, Brett Rogers, Steve Weinberg, Willoughby Johnson, Kristen Foshay Remainders & Reminders by Sam Stowers The categories in bookstores have become increasingly specialized. One store I was in recently had a section for "Essays about Cooking and Eating." "The Personal Essay," however , is not a standard category. Montaigne, father of the modern personal essay (his predecessors included Christian apologists such as Augustine), believed that each human life bears the imprint of the entire human condition. His firstperson meditations became a model for a genre that has given birth to some of the most interesting writing today. Booksellers, though, have a hard time pointing me in the right direction. I have to resort to describing examples. This ploy only works if the bookseller has read the particular author I'm talking about. I say "Well, Edward Hoagland's The Courage of Turtles' tells you a lot about turtles, but it's not about turtles really. It's about being Edward Hoagland." On a good day, this sort of remark can get you sent to the "Belle Lettres" section, or, when things go wrong, it can get you sent to "Literary Criticism." Quite on my own, I found two satisfying books that fit my criteria, but I found them in the oddest places. Joan Skogan's Voyages: At Sea With Strangers (Harper Perennial, 149 pp.) was tagged "Women/ Nature/Travel." It is written by a woman, but, due to the odd circumstances she is describing, most of the book is about men. Skogan works for months at a time as a fisheries observer for the Canadian government aboard Russian and Polish trawlers operating off Canada's west coast. Usually one of only two or three women aboard these cavernous floating factories, Skogan must ensure that the ships operate within limits set by treaties. To do this, she must crawl over tons of fish lying on the deck and determine whether the catch is at least mostly composed of acceptable species. Further, she is charged with preventing pollution and dumping, and has to account for the waste from the dressing of the fish (they are packed and frozen on board) and the discarded rough fish in terms of pounds of fish meal created in the bowels of the ship. Skogan tramps around with her log book and figures on fish meal production, yelling over the din at machine operators and knocking on the captain's door, 228 ยท The Missouri Review trying to be assertive enough to enforce the treaty and deferential enough to keep from being ignored or thrown overboard. As she describes cramped hallways covered with fish scales and Russian seamen who offer her tea and quiz her by testing her knowledge of poets who died at the hands of Stalinist bureaucrats , it is hard to see why her book was labeled either "Nature" or 'Travel." Voyages is finely crafted, sensual prose, and it's a wonderful addition to the literature of seafaring in the tradition of B. Traven and Melville. This is a book about meeting strangers. Skogan must decide which officers and crew members can be trusted, which ones are dangerous , and she reflects on some of her judgments that may have been too hasty. At one point she wonders if an outrageous Polish captain who stopped the ship, took her for a picnic on an island and played the guitar for her all afternoon was an irritating male chauvinist or someone who valued her and understood her loneliness. Albert Goldbarth is well known as a poet and writer of literary prose, but you would...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 218-219
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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