What would it be like to grow up without your father for half the year and to spend all those months wondering if you'd ever see him again? No, Cal Bollings's parents are not separated; his father is a crab boat captain who spends the winter battling ice, ocean, and wind to fill the hold with a big enough catch to bring in a decent income. Henry may be captain, but his boat is owned by John Gaunt, the man who holds the livelihood and destiny of the entire town in his hands.
Now suppose John dies and his son has no wish to be in the crabbing business. Teenage Cal didn't have to wonder what would happen, he saw firsthand what desperation can do to otherwise decent men.
Loyalty Island was the stink of herring, nickel paint, and kelp rotting on moorings and beaches. The smell of green pine needles browning across the ground. It was the rumble of outboards, wind, and ice machines, and the whine of hydraulic blocks. It was gray light that flooded and ebbed at dawn and dusk.—When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man, by Nick Dybek (Riverhead Books 2012; quote is from uncorrected proofs)
It was the habit of loneliness. We spent our time watching calendars, waiting for the chaos that came when the radios crackled and the the phones rang and the tires kicked dust in the parking lots around Greene Harbor. We searched the horizon for returning fishermen, who arrived shaggy and greasy, telling their stories but not their secrets. (p. 3)
- Setting: coast of Washington State, fishing village, late 1980s
- Circumstances: men intent on maintaining the staus quo in the face of change
- Characters: the Bollings, the Gaunts, the townsfolk, and crabbers
- Main themes: fathers and son, morality, loyalty, family
- Genres: coming-of-age, thriller, nod to Treasure Island
- Publication date: April 12
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