October 8th, 2008

krazy koati

Is it my imagination or is it getting darker

I'm going to talk a bit about my fresh-finished book. Now, this is a book for folks who think Doc Smith could stand to be a little more bombastic. I mean, But among these great storms there have been four giants of their kind creating epics of violence and destruction, leaving in their wake incredible legends that are too wild for fiction and therefore must be confined to the naked bones of stark truth? And that's just getting started. It's hard not to hear Ted Knight ominously proclaiming all this as Superman and Aquaman have to team up to stop the misguided idealist who's turned supervillain.

Ultimately, I have to rate it as a bad book. For one thing the prose is so utterly thrilled beyond measure with the excitement and mystery of it all that it makes it all the more awkward how often the problem amounts to ``ship sailed into an enormous storm and was lost without a trace'', which is understandable but also gets a bit tiring at length, particularly when the text so wants everything including the ship's cook who begged off the Last Trip Of The Season to carry emotional heft. (It also talks about Holland, Michigan, more than I'd expect, but I have only a slender mental model of Holland, Michigan.)

The book was originally printed in 1954, and was updated in the late 70s to amend some things --- obvious in the differences in typeface --- and to add a long section about the Edmund Fitzgerald (and some other 1958-to-1975 wrecks). At the risk of sounding like I'm trivializing the event, though, I don't see why the Edmund Fitzgerald alone requires as many pages as go into Lake Superior and Lake Ontario wrecks combined. It's a weird sinking and fresh in the mind of the author in the revised edition, but it seems like it's given space and attention (at a mercifully lower level of bombast than the 1954 text offers) than is really compelling.

Trivia: Oceangoing steamers left New York Harbor about every twenty minutes in the 1920s. Source: The Detonators: The Secret Plot to Destroy America and an Epic Hunt for Justice, Chad Millman.

Currently Reading: Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Survivals, William Ratigan.

(And I'm disappointed but not surprised to see Wikipedia doesn't list Robert Barry's birthday for October 8. But I suppose everyone who'd be amused by that listing already has it in mind.)